nutrition and metabolism

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dietary guidelines and the most recent Food Guide Pyramid, and follows with a provoca- ...... (abstract) . J Clin Oncol Proc ASCO 2005 ; 23 : 515 . 67 . ...... What a person routinely eats appears to play a central role in his or her long-term risk of ...

Nutrition and Health Adrianne Bendich, PhD, FACN, Series Editor

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NUTRITION AND METABOLISM Underlying Mechanisms and Clinical Consequences Editor Christos S. Mantzoros, MD, DSc Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Editor Christos S. Mantzoros, MD, DSc Division of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolism Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Harvard Medical School Boston, MA USA

Series Editor Adrianne Bendich, PhD, FACN GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Parsippany, NJ USA

ISBN: 978-1-60327-452-4 e-ISBN: 978-1-60327-453-1 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009922619 © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 All rights reserved. This work may not be translated or copied in whole or in part without the written permission of the publisher (Humana Press, c/o Springer Science + Business Media, LLC, 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013, USA), except for brief excerpts in connection with reviews or scholarly analysis. Use in connection with any form of information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed is forbidden. The use in this publication of trade names, trademarks, service marks, and similar terms, even if they are not identified as such, is not to be taken as an expression of opinion as to whether or not they are subject to proprietary rights. While the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of going to press, neither the authors nor the editors nor the publisher can accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may be made. The publisher makes no warranty, express or implied, with respect to the material contained herein. Printed on acid-free paper


To my parents, whose lifelong service to their suffering fellow human beings became a true inspiration and enlightened guidance for my professional and personal life

Series Preface

The Nutrition and HealthTM series of books have, as an overriding mission, to provide health professionals with texts that are considered essential because each includes: (1) a synthesis of the state of the science, (2) timely, in-depth reviews by the leading researchers in their respective fields, (3) extensive, up-to-date fully annotated reference lists, (4) a detailed index, (5) relevant tables and figures, (6) identification of paradigm shifts and the consequences, (7) virtually no overlap of information between chapters, but targeted, inter-chapter referrals, (8) suggestions of areas for future research, and (9) balanced, data-driven answers to patient/health professionals questions which are based upon the totality of evidence rather than the findings of any single study. The series volumes are developed to provide valuable in-depth information to nutrition health professionals and health providers interested in practical guidelines. Each editor has the potential to examine a chosen area with a broad perspective, both in subject matter as well as in the choice of chapter authors. The international perspective, especially with regard to public health initiatives, is emphasized where appropriate. The editors, whose trainings are both research and practice oriented, have the opportunity to develop a primary objective for their book, define the scope and focus, and then invite the leading authorities from around the world to be part of their initiative. The authors are encouraged to provide an overview of the field, discuss their own research, and relate the research findings to potential human health consequences. Because each book is developed de novo, the chapters are coordinated so that the resulting volume imparts greater knowledge than the sum of the information contained in the individual chapters. Nutrition and Metabolism: Underlying Mechanisms and Clinical Consequences, edited by Christos S. Mantzoros, MD is a very welcome addition to the Nutrition and Health Series and fully exemplifies the Series’ goals. This volume is especially timely since the obesity epidemic continues to increase around the world and the comorbidities, such as the metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia are seen even in very young children. The editor reminds us that, for most people, their weight remains relatively stable despite wide variations in the types of foods we consume each day, differences in caloric content, and differences in daily physical activity. It is only recently that physicians, scientists, and health providers have begun to think about the complexities of excess body weight. This volume contains informative chapters that look at the genetics associated with obesity, the role of the nervous system and the endocrine system, the gastrointestinal tract and of great importance, adipose tissue, as more than a fat storage site. The last decade has seen an explosion of identification vii


Series Preface

and characterization of the many bioactive molecules that are synthesized and secreted by adipose cells (adipokines). The adipokines and other molecules synthesized in the stomach, intestines, pancreas, and other gastrointestinal organs have been associated with the development of obesity and its comorbidities as well as many, often thought of as unrelated, consequences including insulin resistance, cardiovascular complications, lipid disorders, hypertension, and hormonal imbalances as examples. Thus, the relevance of obesity-related pathophysiology to the clinical setting is of great interest to not only academic researchers, but also healthcare providers. This text is the first to synthesize the knowledge base concerning obesity and its comorbidities including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, and relate these to the mechanisms behind the alterations in metabolism that increase chronic disease risk. This unique volume also contains practice guidelines and tools for obesity management to help the practicing health professional as well as those professionals who have an interest in the latest, up-to-date information on obesity treatments and their implications for improving human health and reducing obesity-related diseases. This volume serves the dual purposes of providing current clinical assessment and management guidelines as well as relevant background information on the genetics and pathophysiology associated with the consequences of obesity. The chapters include an historic perspective as well as suggestions for future research opportunities. Dr. Mantzoros is an internationally recognized leader in the field of obesity research as well as clinical outcomes. He and his authors are excellent communicators and he has worked tirelessly to develop a book that is destined to be the benchmark in the field because of its extensive, in-depth chapters covering the most important aspects of the complex interactions between cellular functions, diet and obesity, and its impact on disease states. The editor has chosen 32 of the most well-recognized and respected authors from around the world to contribute the 18 informative chapters in the volume. Hallmarks of all of the chapters include complete definitions of terms with the abbreviations fully defined for the reader and consistent use of terms between chapters. Key features of this comprehensive volume include the informative key points and keywords that are at the beginning of each chapter, appendices that include detailed tables of major nutrient recommendations for weight reduction in the obese as well as for those with diabetes; detailed descriptions of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet protocol; an extensive list of foods and their glycemic index and many other practical guidelines to help in patient management. The volume also contains more than 80 detailed tables and informative figures, an extensive, detailed index, and more than 2,000 up-to-date references that provide the reader with excellent sources of worthwhile information about the role of diet, exercise, food intake, physiology and pathophysiology of obesity, the metabolic syndrome, types I and II diabetes, and other obesity-related comorbidities. Dr. Mantzoros has coauthored many of the chapters and he has chosen chapter authors who are internationally distinguished researchers, clinicians, and epidemiologists who provide a comprehensive foundation for understanding the role of weight control in the maintenance of human health as well as its role in obesity and related co-morbidities. The book is organized into logical sections that provide the reader with an overview of the complexities of weight control. There is an extensive discussion of the genetics of obesity and the involvement of at least 11 human genes in the control of food intake and metabolism. Genetically linked obesity syndromes are described including Prader–Willi

Series Preface


syndrome. This chapter includes new information on the genetics of metabolic syndrome, types I and II diabetes and reviews the findings that link these diseases genetically. The interaction between the central and peripheral nervous systems, the endocrine system, and molecules synthesized during digestion are discussed in the next chapter that introduces the reader to the concepts of metabolic signals, orosensory stimuli, GI tract peptides and adipokines from fat tissue. Explanations are provided for the role of leptin, insulin, peptide YY, ghrelin, visfatin, cholecystokinin, and many other important modulators in human metabolism. An important chapter is devoted to the description of the central nervous system with detailed explanations of the importance of the hypothalamus and the brain stem. We learn that control of appetite resides in the arcuate nucleus area of the hypothalamus, whereas the paraventricular nucleus is involved with energy homeostasis. This chapter reviews the importance of orexigenic and anorexigenic neuropeptides as well as the effects of thyroid hormones, adrenergic receptors, and thermogenic tissues. The final chapter in the section on genetics and pathophysiology looks at insulin resistance and its consequences. The concept of adipose tissue inflammation is introduced and there is discussion about body fat distribution including the effects of visceral vs. subcutaneous fat. Childhood obesity is a major public health concern as the percentage of young children that are obese or overweight continues to grow globally. There is an extensive review of the published studies that have attempted to control weight gain in children and adolescents most of which do not use pharmacological agents. Certainly, more research is needed in this area as long-term successful strategies have not been developed and well-accepted guidelines for clinical practice are not currently available. Two chapters review recommendations for diet and physical activity for healthy adults in one chapter and for the prevention and management of diabetes in the other chapter. These chapters discuss the importance of reducing trans fats, total fat, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages. The authors review the data on the importance of physical activity to help control lipid levels and improve energy balance. The final chapter in this section examines the association of obesity and cancer risk. Poor dietary habits account for about 35% of incident cancers and smoking accounts for 30%; obesity accounts for 15%. About 16–20% of cancer deaths in US women and 14% in US men can be attributed to obesity. The chapter includes an analysis of the dietary habits around the globe that can result in a sevenfold difference in the rates of breast and prostate cancers between Western type diets and the rates seen in Japan. Many nations have developed nutrition recommendations for the general population as well as for those individuals who suffer from the co-morbidities associated with obesity including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This section of the volume considers the guidance that has been provided, reviews the history of the development of US national dietary guidelines and the most recent Food Guide Pyramid, and follows with a provocative chapter by Drs. Willett and Stampfer that questions the scientific basis for some of the more general national recommendations given in the Pyramid. Nutrition recommendation for those with cardiovascular disease includes reduction of salt, saturated and trans fats and increases in dietary fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, calcium, and potassium. Examples of food-based intervention studies that have reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors including the prudent diet, DASH diet, Mediterranean diet and the guidelines from the American Heart


Series Preface

Association and the European Society of Cardiology are discussed in detail. Details are also provided for the assessment of cardiovascular disease including the biochemical markers currently used to stage the patient. This chapter also discussed the role of dietary supplements in CVD management. In the past 20 years, a new field of patient care has emerged called medical nutrition therapy (MNT). MNT has been particularly important in the management of patients with types I and II diabetes. Practice guidelines have been developed for children, adolescents, and adults and have been of value in the control of blood glucose levels as well as glycosylated hemoglobin. Diets are recommended that contain levels of essential micronutrients important to the diabetic. This chapter and the additional information in the related appendices provide practical information for the health provider. There is also a separate chapter that describes the Mediterranean diet and the clinical studies, including survey data, case–control and intervention studies that have examined the potential for this diet to reduce obesity and CVD. The final section includes in-depth chapters on the clinical assessment and management of obesity and its co-morbidities. There is a comprehensive chapter on lifestyle and pharmacological treatments for obesity. It is of interest that even today that hypercholesterolemia remains undiagnosed in 50% of the US population and 95% remain undertreated. This chapter explains the effects of hypertension, often seen in the obese, on carotid medial intimal thickness and the clinical studies that have included treatments. A comprehensive review of statin use is also included. Accurate diagnosis tools for obesity and diabetes are provided in the next chapter and also include management tools for gestational diabetes. Another informative chapter describes the use of bariatric surgery and the critical importance of the preoperation evaluation. We are reminded that to date weight loss surgery is the only effective treatment for severe, medically complicated, and refractory obesity. Guidelines for patient inclusion, types of operations, and importantly, postoperation care are provided in detail. The final chapter reviews the major co-morbidities associated with obesity and weight loss due to bariatric surgery that have not been included in other chapters. These areas include the increased risk of osteoporosis and fracture following bariatric surgery and the increased risk of gallstones that also occurs after this surgery. On the other hand, there appears to be a significant decrease in mortality as well as a decrease in sleep apnea and osteoarthritis. The literature on the increased risk of certain cancers with obesity is also included. Each of the chapter authors has integrated the newest research findings so the reader can better understand the complex interactions that can result from excess weight gain as well as loss of excess weight. Given the growing concern with the increase in adult as well as childhood obesity, it is not surprising to find that all chapters in this valuable book are devoted to the clinical aspects of obesity, weight control, diabetes, and other chronic diseases associated with obesity. Moreover, both the cultural aspects of weight gain and the emotional triggers of eating are reviewed. Emphasis is also given to the growing awareness that obesity is associated with a low-grade inflammatory state. The editor and authors have integrated the information within these chapters so that the healthcare practitioner can provide guidance to the patient about the potential consequences of chronic obesity. The inclusion of both the earlier chapters on the complexity of human physiology and the chapters that contain clinical discussions helps the reader to have a broader basis of understanding of obesity and the attendant co-morbidities.

Series Preface


In conclusion, Nutrition and Metabolism: Underlying Mechanisms and Clinical Consequences, edited by Christos S. Mantzoros, MD provides health professionals in many areas of research and practice with the most up-to-date, well-referenced volume on the importance of maintaining normal weight so that obesity and the obesity-related chronic diseases that can adversely affect human health are avoided. This volume will serve the reader as the benchmark in this complex area of interrelationships between body weight, the central nervous system, endocrine organs, the GI tract, the biochemical reactions in fat cells, inflammation of adipose tissue, and the functioning of all other organ systems in the human body. Moreover, the interactions between obesity, genetic factors, and the numerous co-morbidities are clearly delineated so that students as well as practitioners can better understand the complexities of these interactions. Dr. Mantzoros is applauded for his efforts to develop the most authoritative resource in the field to date and this excellent text is a very welcome addition to the Nutrition and Health series. Adrianne Bendich, PhD, FACN Parsippany, NJ


Research on obesity spans a wide range of disciplines, from molecular biology to physiology to epidemiology and translational research to clinical medicine. This book attempts to review comprehensively, for practicing clinicians and scientists alike, our current understanding of how nutrition interacts with the genetic substrate as well as environmental-exogenous factors, including physical activity or the lack thereof, to result in insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, the causation, epidemiology, clinical presentation, prevention, and treatment of the most common manifestations of disease states associated with the metabolic syndrome are reviewed. After presenting the Scope of the Problem, the first major part of the book is devoted to Genetics and Pathophysiology, the second part of the book presents the Public Health Perspective of the most prevalent problems associated with nutrition and the metabolic syndrome, whereas the third major part of the book focuses on Clinical Assessment and Management of the main disease states associated with inappropriate nutrition and the metabolic syndrome. Finally, general information useful for both clinicians and researchers alike is presented in the Appendix. Covering the entire field of nutrition or metabolism would have been a daunting task, far beyond the scope of a single volume book. Thus, Nutrition and Metabolism: Underlying Mechanisms and Clinical Consequences offers only an up-to-date and authoritative review of the major scientific and clinical aspects of the overlapping areas between nutrition and metabolism. I am indebted to all my colleagues, most of them scientists and distinguished professors at Harvard University, for their valuable contributions. I thank the staff at Humana Press for their hard work in putting together this book in close collaboration with staff in my group, especially Lauren Kuhn and Jess Fargnoli. We also wish to express our gratitude to Dr. Adrianne Bendich, the Series Editor, for her thoughtful suggestions. I certainly hope that the efforts of all of us will not only provide much needed information to our practicing colleagues but also serve as a stimulus for further research in this scientific topic of utmost importance for the developed world in the twenty-first century. Our mission will be eventually accomplished if, through higher quality research, superior teaching, and consequently improved health services, the quality of our prevention programs as well as the quality of health care we provide to our suffering fellow human beings is ultimately enhanced. Christos S. Mantzoros Boston, MA xiii


Series Preface ..........................................................................................................




Contributors ............................................................................................................


Part I 1

Nutrition and the Metabolic Syndrome: A Twenty-First-Century Epidemic of Obesity and Eating Disorders ..................................................... Christos S. Mantzoros

Part II 2




Scope of the Problem

Genetics and Pathophysiology

Genes and Gene–Environment Interactions in the Pathogenesis of Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome ........................................................ Despina Sanoudou, Elizabeth Vafiadaki, and Christos S. Mantzoros Environmental Inputs, Intake of Nutrients, and Endogenous Molecules Contributing to the Regulation of Energy Homeostasis................ Theodore Kelesidis, Iosif Kelesidis, and Christos S. Mantzoros Central Integration of Environmental and Endogenous Signals Important in the Regulation of Food Intake and Energy Expenditure .................................................................................. Iosif Kelesidis, Theodore Kelesidis, and Christos S. Mantzoros Insulin Resistance in States of Energy Excess: Underlying Pathophysiological Concepts ....................................................... Susann Blüher and Christos S. Mantzoros

Part III






Public Health Perspective


Targeting Childhood Obesity Through Lifestyle Modification ...................... Eirini Bathrellou and Mary Yannakoulia



Diet and Physical Activity in the Prevention of Obesity ................................ Frank B. Hu







Diet and Exercise in the Prevention and Management of the Metabolic Syndrome............................................................................. Mary Yannakoulia, Evaggelia Fappa, Janice Jin Hwang, and Christos S. Mantzoros Diet and Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention............................................ Alicja Wolk

Part IV

Food Guide Pyramids and the 2005 MyPyramid............................................ Jessica Fargnoli and Christos S. Mantzoros


Nutrition Recommendations for the General Population: Where Is the Science? ..................................................................................... Walter C. Willett and Meir J. Stampfer


Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Subjects with Cardiovascular Disease ............................................................ Meropi Kontogianni, Mary Yannakoulia, Lauren Kuhn, Sunali Shah, Kristina Day, and Christos S. Mantzoros Medical Nutrition Therapy in the Treatment of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes ............................................................................ Olga Kordonouri, Caroline Apovian, Lauren Kuhn, Thomas Danne, and Christos S. Mantzoros

Part V


Nutrition Recommendations








Clinical Assessment and Management


Mediterranean Diet in Disease Prevention: Current Perspectives .................. Jessica Fargnoli, Yoon Kim, and Christos S. Mantzoros


Lifestyle and Pharmacology Approaches for the Treatment of Hypertension and Hyperlipidemia ............................................ Peter Oettgen


Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Medical Management of Obesity and Diabetes ...................................................................................... Jean L. Chan and Christos S. Mantzoros




Surgical Management of Obesity and Postoperative Care.............................. George L. Blackburn, Torsten Olbers, Benjamin E. Schneider, Vivian M. Sanchez, Aoife Brennan, Christos S. Mantzoros, and Daniel B. Jones






Long-Term Impact of Weight Loss on Obesity and Obesity-Associated Comorbidities ................................................................. Janice Jin Hwang, George Blackburn, and Christos S. Mantzoros


Part VI Appendix 19

Methods for Classifying, Diagnosing, and Monitoring Obesity ..................... Christos S. Mantzoros



Methods for Classifying, Diagnosing, and Monitoring Type II Diabetes ....... Christos S. Mantzoros



Major Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Subjects with Hyperlipidemia, Hypertension, and/or Diabetes ................ Christos S. Mantzoros

Part VII



Resources ................................................................................................................


Index .......................................................................................................................



Caroline Apovian, MD • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Nutrition, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA Eirini Bathrellou, MSc • Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece George L. Blackburn, PhD, MD • Division of Nutrition, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Susann Blüher, MD • Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany and Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA Aoife Brennan, MD • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Jean L. Chan, MD • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Thomas Danne, MD • Diabetes Center for Children and Adolescents, Childrens’ Hospital at the Bult, Hannover, Germany Kristina Day, RD • Division of Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Cara B. Ebbeling, PhD • Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Evaggelia Fappa, MSc • Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece Jessica Fargnoli, BS • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Frank B. Hu, PhD, MD • Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of PublicHealth, Boston, MA, USA Janice Jin Hwang, MD • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA




Daniel B. Jones MD, MS • Section of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Iosif Kelesidis, MD • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Theodore Kelesidis, MD • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Yoon Kim, MD • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Meropi Kontogianni, MD • Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece Olga Kordonouri, MD • Diabetes Center for Children and Adolescents, Childrens’ Hospital at the Bult, Hannover, Germany Lauren Kuhn, BS • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Christos S. Mantzoros, MD, DSc • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA J. Peter Oettgen, MD • Division of Cardiology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Torsten Olbers, MD, PhD • Department of Surgery and Gastro Research, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Goteborg, Sweden Deanna Olenczuk, BS • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Vivian M. Sanchez, MD • Section of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Despina Sanoudou, PhD • Division of Molecular Biology, Foundation for Biomedical Research of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece Benjamin E. Schneider, MD • Section of Minimally Invasive Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Sunali Shah, BS • Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA Meir Stampfer, MD • Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA Elizabeth Vafiadaki, PhD • Division of Molecular Biology, Foundation for Biomedical Research of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece Walter Willett, MD • Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA Alicja Wolk, DMSc • Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden Mary Yannakoulia, PhD • Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece


1. INTRODUCTION Inappropriate nutrition, increased calorie intake, and lack of exercise usually lead to obesity and the metabolic syndrome, which, in turn, are responsible for several chronic diseases that affect every aspect of a person s life. In addition to prevention and medical treatment, education is the single most important tool for their management. Education is also of major importance in raising public health awareness since it can hopefully help curb the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other disease states associated with the metabolic syndrome. Following is a list of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations that provide information and resources related to nutrition, obesity, and diabetes.

2. DIABETES ORGANIZATIONS American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) 100 West Monroe, Suite 400 Chicago, IL 60603 Tel: 800-338-3633 or 312-424-2426 Fax: 312-424-2427 Diabetes Educator Access Line: 800-TEAMUP4 (800-832-6874) Email: [email protected] Internet:

American Diabetes Association (ADA) 1701 North Beauregard Street Alexandria, VA 22311 Tel: 800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) Fax: 703-549-6995 Email: [email protected] Internet:



American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) 9312 Old Georgetown Road Bethesda, MD 20814-1621 Foot Care Information Center: 800-FOOT-CARE (800-366-8227) Tel: 301-581-9200 Fax: 301-530-2752 Email: [email protected] Internet:

Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association (DESA) 8001 Montcastle Drive Nashville, TN 37221 Tel: 800-898-4322 Fax: 602-433-9331 Email: [email protected] Internet:

Joslin Diabetes Center One Joslin Place Boston, MA 02215 Tel: 800-JOSLIN-1 or 617-732-2400 Internet:

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) 120 Wall Street New York, NY 10005-4001 Tel: 800-533-CURE (2873) Fax: 212-785-9595 Email: [email protected] Internet:

International Diabetic Federation (IDF) Avenue Emile De Mot 19 – B-1000 Brussels, Belgium Tel: +32-2-538-55-11 Fax: +32-2-538-51-14 Email: [email protected] Internet:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division of Diabetes Translation P.O. Box 8728 Silver Spring, MD 20910 Tel: 877-CDC-DIAB (877-232-3422)



Fax: 301-562-1050 Email: [email protected] Internet:

3. OBESITY ORGANIZATIONS Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) 60 Revere Drive, Suite 500 Northbrook, IL 60062 Tel: 847-498-4274 Fax: 847-480-9282 Email: [email protected] Internet:

American Obesity Association (AOA) 1250 24th Street, NW Suite 300 Washington, DC 20037 Tel: 202-776-7711 Fax: 202-776-7712 Internet:

American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) 100 SW 75th Street Suite 201 Gainesville, FL 32607 Tel: 352-331-4900 Fax: 352-331-4975 Email: [email protected] Internet:

American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) 2821 S. Parker Rd., Ste. 625 Aurora, CO 80014 Tel: 303-770-2526 Fax: 303-779-4834 Email: [email protected] Internet:

International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) 231 North Gower Street, London NW1 2NS, UK Tel: +44-20-7691-1900 Fax: +44-20-7387-6033 Email: [email protected]/[email protected] Internet:




North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 918 Silver Spring, MD 20910 Tel: 301-563-6526 Fax: 301-563-6595 Internet:

4. NUTRITION American Society for Nutrition (ASN) 9650 Rockville Pike Suite L-5500 Bethesda, MD 20814 Tel: 301-634-7050 Fax: 301-634-7892 Email: [email protected] Internet:

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion 3101 Park Center Drive Room 1034 Alexandria, VA 22302-1594 Tel: 1-888-7pyramid Email: [email protected] Internet:

Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) Department of Nutrition 665 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA 02115 Tel: 617-432-1851 Fax: 617-432-2435 Email: [email protected] Internet:

World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Nutrition for Health and Development Avenue Appia 20 1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland Fax: +41-22-791-41-56 Email: [email protected] Internet:

National Health Information Center P.O. Box 1133 Washington, DC 20013-1133



Tel: 800-336-4797 Email: [email protected] Internet:

Aristides Daskalopoulos Foundation (IAD) 10, Ziridi str Maroussi 15123, Greece Tel: +30-211-3494101 Fax: +30-211-3494128 Email: [email protected] Internet:

American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 412 Silver Spring, MD 20910 Tel: 800-727-4567 or 301-587-6315 Fax: 301-587-2365 Email: [email protected] Internet:

Dietary Guidelines for Americans U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Internet:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Consumer Affairs 5600 Fishers Lane Rockville, MD 20857 Tel: 888-INFO-FDA (463-6332) and 888-SAFE FOOD (888-723-3366) (Food Information Line) Fax: 301-443-9767 Internet:

Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) USDA/ARS/National Agricultural Library 10301 Baltimore Avenue, Room 105 Beltsville, MD 20705-2351 Tel: 301-504-5719; TTY: 301-504-6856 Fax: 301-504-6409 Email: [email protected] Internet:

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 1400 Independence Ave., SW Washington, DC 20250


Tel: 800-727-9540 and 202-720-2791 Internet:

U.S. Government’s Food Safety Web Site

5. ORGANIZATIONS OF COMMON INTEREST American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 141 Northwest Point Boulevard Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098 Tel: 847-434-4000 or 888-227-1770 Email: [email protected] Internet:

American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) 1000 Riverside Avenue Suite 205, Jacksonville, FL 32204 Tel: 904-353-7878 Fax: 904-353-8185 Email: [email protected] Internet:

American Dietetic Association (ADA) 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000 Chicago, IL 60606-6995 Tel: 800-366-1655 Fax: 312-899-4739 Email: [email protected] Internet:

American Heart Association 7272 Greenville Avenue Dallas, TX 75231-4596 Tel: 800-AHA-USA1 (800-242-8721) or 214-706-1220 Fax: 214-706-1341 Internet:

Endocrine Society 4350 East West Highway, Suite 500 Bethesda, MD 20814-4426 Tel: 301-941-0200 Fax: 301-941-0259 Email: [email protected] Internet:



National Cancer Institute (NCI) Public Inquiries Office 6116 Executive Boulevard Room 3036A Bethesda, MD 20892-8322 Tel: 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237); TTY: 800-332-8615 Email: [email protected] Internet:

National Center on Sleep Disorders Research National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute 6705 Rockledge Drive Suite 6022 Bethesda, MD 20892-7993 Tel: 301-435-0199 Fax: 301-480-3451 Email: [email protected] Internet:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Information Center Education Programs Information Center P.O. Box 30105 Bethesda, MD 20824-0105 Tel: 301-592-8573; TTY: 240-629-3255 Fax: 240-629-3246 Email: [email protected] Internet:

National Institute on Aging (NIA) Information Center P.O. Box 8057 Gaithersburg, MD 20898 Tel: 800-222-2225; TTY: 800-222-4225 Email: [email protected] Internet:

North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) P.O. Box 6 Flourtown, PA 19031 Tel: 215-233-0808 Fax: 215-233-3918 Email: [email protected] Internet:



Nutrition and the Metabolic Syndrome: A Twenty-First-Century Epidemic of Obesity and Eating Disorders Christos S. Mantzoros

Lack of sufficient nutrition is the main problem of billions of persons in the underdeveloped world, while excessive caloric intake leading to obesity is becoming more and more prevalent in Western societies of affluence. As a result, obesity, which leads to the metabolic syndrome and is thus closely associated with significant morbidity and mortality from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers, to mention a few, is considered the epidemic of our century in Western societies. Positive energy balance, as reflected by increasing BMI, is not a recent phenomenon. BMI has been increasing for many decades, but until the mid or late 1970s, it was rather associated with improved health and increased longevity. In the past few decades, however, the risk-to-benefit ratio has been shifting in such a way that the continued increase in body fatness is increasingly being recognized as underlying several chronic disease states. This phenomenon is slowing or even reversing gains made in terms of life expectancy in the past. More than 30% of Americans are currently overweight and another 30% are obese, defined as a body mass index (BMI) between 25.0 and 29.9 kg m−2 and higher than 30.0 kg m−2 respectively. Moreover, if the current trends continue, it is expected that by the year 2020 more than 50% of Americans will be obese, possibly making obesity the “norm” and leanness the “exception.” In children, use of the term overweight is usually preferred, to avoid potential stigmatization, and thus the definition of obesity in children is based on exceeding the 95th percentile of BMI-for-age using the 2000 Centers for Disease Control charts. From: Nutrition and Health: Nutrition and Metabolism Edited by: C.S. Mantzoros, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1_1, © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009




Obesity is currently considered as being responsible for increasing morbidity as well as mortality, i.e., for the deaths of several hundreds of thousands of persons every year in Western societies. This fact makes obesity the second important potentially preventable cause of death after smoking. In addition to leading to illness, obesity can reduce significantly functional capacity and can increase disability. Realization of the above has prompted a heightened research interest in the factors influencing energy balance, and intensified research efforts on the links between obesity and its complications. It has also created an increasing demand for the study of new methods to diagnose, prevent, or treat obesity and associated comorbidities. Negative energy balance, either due to lack of availability of appropriate nutrition leading to starvation in underdeveloped nations, or due to voluntary (dieting for weight loss) or involuntary caloric restriction (anorexia nervosa, exercise-induced or hypothalamic amenorrhea) in developed nations, is also of increasing prevalence. Immune dysfunction as well as certain well-defined neuroendocrine abnormalities leading to important adverse health consequences such as osteoporosis and infertility are the end result of energy deprivation. Research efforts to identify missing links between energy deficiency and these pathophysiological abnormalities have also been intensified over the past several years. In the area of epidemiology of obesity, the good news is that increasing rates of obesity appear to be reaching a plateau either because public health campaigns and interventions have started working and/or because almost all people with the genetic potential to develop obesity upon exposure to adverse environmental and dietary factors have already developed obesity. The bad news is that the prevalence of obesity continues to rise around the world and that this rising prevalence of obesity is associated with increasing rates of disability, morbidity, and mortality.

1. CAN WE DISCERN HOPEFUL SIGNS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CURRENT DIFFICULTIES CREATED BY THESE DISEASE STATES? Several discoveries over the past 10 years have created opportunities for prevention and/or treatment, including discoveries of new genes, molecules, and regulatory pathways. Central, in my opinion, may prove to be developments in the field encompassed by the question: How does negative energy balance lead to neuroendocrine abnormalities? Recent work, mainly from our laboratory, has demonstrated that levels of an adipocyte-secreted hormone, circulating levels of which reflect the amount of energy stored in fat, i.e. leptin, fall in response to negative energy balance and this fall can lead to the neuroendocrine dysfunction that has traditionally been associated with energy, and thus leptin, deficiency states, such as anorexia nervosa and exercise-induced or hypothalamic amenorrhea. Importantly, exogenous administration of leptin, in replacement doses, can correct these neuroendocrine abnormalities in these leptin deficiency states. These novel advances, discussed in the relevant chapters of this book, open new and exciting avenues for diagnosing and treating these conditions in the future. Whether additional factors may also play a role or modify the effects of leptin administration remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether falling leptin levels in response to caloric/energy deprivation in obese persons who diet to lose weight may also be responsible for their neuroendocrine changes, which, in turn, tend to defend the original body weight and to make the obese person regain any weight lost in response to dieting.

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2. EPIDEMIOLOGY TRENDS IN CHILDREN AND ADULTS The prevalence of obesity has been increasing steadily over the past several years. This has been documented in both genders and in every ethnic group and socioeconomic status in Western societies of affluence. Importantly, the increasing prevalence of obesity is not confined to adults; children and adolescents are becoming increasingly overweight and obese. This phenomenon has resulted in increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes among adolescents and is expected to shift the age of diagnosis of obesityassociated comorbidities, including cardiovascular diseases and cancers, earlier in life. The potential financial, psychological, and public health implications of these changes are enormous, and have not yet been fully appreciated. Recent evidence indicates that in addition to long-recognized genetic and environmental factors, including nutrition and exercise, social networks are closely associated with and may play an important role in the spread of obesity. What are the links between significant interpersonal relationships, human behavior, and the pathogenesis of obesity and its complications? What is their impact on obesity prevention and treatment in societies of affluence, as well as in developing societies? Also, how does inappropriate nutrition lead to obesity and how is obesity linked to morbidity and mortality? A considerable amount of work is currently underway to identify and characterize the environmental, social, genetic, cognitive, sensory, metabolic, hormonal, and neural factors leading to obesity and associated comorbidities. The end result is the significant growth of specific clusters of knowledge in each one of the above specific scientific areas; over the past 15 years, none is currently emerging, unfortunately, as developed enough to explain a meaningful proportion of the problem and/or to allow meaningful predictions of future developments in the areas of prevention or treatment (see below). This not only underlines the multifactorial pathogenesis of the problem but is also considered by many as the last step before major breakthroughs occur on the basis of this accumulating knowledge. Significant progress is being made in the scientific area of hormonal and other factors linking excessive amounts of energy stored in adipose tissue with insulin resistance, the metabolic syndrome, and related complications. All these are outlined in detail in the respective chapters of this book.

3. ENVIRONMENTAL AND EXOGENOUS INFLUENCES AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC HEALTH INTERVENTIONS Our current environment is distinctly different from the one our ancestors encountered several centuries or even just a century ago. One would thus argue that obesity may be, in part, the result of several factors set in motion by changes in the environment we live in, including the immediate availability of food at the expense of a lower cost and less physical labor, less physical activity, and possibly potential hormonal and epigenetic effects. Questions related to these notions are not only what the best interventions, including diet and exercise, should be, but also how could one help people adhere to an appropriate intervention program for the long term? Two commonly attacked environmental factors are food marketing practices and institutionally and technologically driven reductions in physical activity. Yet, many have argued that, despite emerging data from controlled interventional studies, available data supporting the above are largely circumstantial and observational in nature. We all realize, however, that if we are to make pervasive and enduring changes to the prevalence of



obesity and associated comorbidities, it is likely that we will need to make pervasive and enduring changes to the ways we live across our entire lifespan and these changes are admittedly difficult to implement.

4. MECHANISMS UNDERLYING THE LINK BETWEEN NUTRITION, METABOLISM, AND DISEASE STATES AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS Although we realize that obesity is associated with adverse health outcomes, we do not fully understand the mechanisms underlying these associations. New genes linked to obesity have been discovered and novel neuroendocrine mechanisms have been proposed. Although scientific developments in basic and translational research over the past decade have greatly advanced our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the development of the metabolic syndrome and associated abnormalities, as discussed in detail herein, much more needs to be done in the not so distant future.

5. HOW EFFECTIVE ARE WE IN ACHIEVING OUR GOALS? Assuming that weight loss is desirable, can we really achieve it? Behavioral modifications such as diet and exercise, while first-line recommendations, remain ultimately largely ineffective at maintaining long-term weight loss at desirable levels. Despite intensive research efforts in the field, it remains to be fully elucidated which diet or dietary pattern, if any, is the most beneficial in terms of reducing weight loss or improving metabolic profile. This is related, in part, to the difficulty in reproducing in an experimental setting the real life dietary patterns of populations, let alone to perform longterm clinical trials utilizing these specific diets or dietary patterns. Thus, although data from interventional studies have started to emerge, current dietary recommendations are based mainly on expert opinion, based, to a large extent, on observational studies (which do not prove causality), expected outcomes and risk–benefit estimations. We discuss herein the effects of different treatment modalities, including behavioral modifications such as diet and exercise, pharmacotherapy, and bariatric surgery, on obesity and its comorbidities, including cardiovascular risk factors, risk for malignancy, bone disease, biliary disease, and overall quality of life. Pertinent randomized controlled clinical trial and meta-analysis data are discussed and when these are not available, or do not fully elucidate relevant questions, data from observational studies and case series are reported in the relevant chapters of this book.

6. WHERE WOULD WE LIKE TO BE IN THE NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE? In energy deficiency states we clearly need to advance further our understanding of the role of leptin (and other hormones) to improve and/or correct the neuroendocrine abnormalities of women with hypothalamic amenorrhea and anorexia nervosa as well as those of obese subjects dieting to lose weight and/or having had surgery for obesity. We also need conclusive evidence from randomized trials on whether leptin and/or other treatment options could also improve the osteoporosis of subjects with anorexia nervosa or hypothalamic amenorrhea. Importantly, we need to learn whether the effect

Chapter 1 / Nutrition and the Metabolic Syndrome


of leptin in improving neuroendocrine function could facilitate weight maintenance of obese subjects who strive to lose weight. Much needed investigations are underway in this area. With obesity affecting greater numbers of people each year and with currently available methods having only modest success to reduce the increasing prevalence of obesity, there is an urgent need to develop better weight loss and weight maintenance programs. We also need to clearly identify the many genetic and environmental components that are involved in the pathogenesis of the problem and to carefully study the underlying molecular, cellular, and hormonal mechanisms. On the basis of elucidating these factors, effective diagnostic tools and pharmaceuticals could hopefully be designed, appropriate behavioral modification programs could be investigated, and well-informed public health recommendations could be formulated to direct and implement pervasive, effective, and enduring changes to the ways we live our lives.

7. WHAT CAN WE RECOMMEND TODAY? Diet and exercise are the cornerstones of prevention and treatment of obesity and related disorders. Although dietary recommendations have been changing over the past few years, it is hoped that, as we learn more from both observational and interventional studies, our recommendations will continue to be refined and will hopefully prove to be more and more effective. It is also hoped that diagnostic and therapeutic methods will continue to improve significantly. New medications and new surgical methods are continually tested, developed, and applied. We present herein our current understanding of underlying scientific principles and current recommendations with the explicit understanding that medical approaches should not only be characterized by continuous quality improvements but need to also be individualized and guided by the responsible treating physician. Each chapter in this book provides an authoritative review of the current status of research and knowledge in each one of the most important clusters of current work in the Nutrition and Metabolism field. Text and graphs of several chapters appeared in their original form in the textbook “Nutrition and Metabolism”, C. Mantzoros (editor), published by the Aristides Daskalopoulos Foundation in Athens, Greece, 2007. Material from these chapters is reproduced herein with permission granted by the Aristides Daskalopoulos Foundation. The chapters in this book are relatively brief, analytical, based on scientific evidence, and are written in an accessible style. We all hope that putting together cuttingedge research and reviewing critically current knowledge in all these fields will result in a sum that will be greater than its individual components. We also hope that ongoing work will lead, in the not so distant future, to a better understanding of the problems we are facing and to a more efficient creation of novel solutions that would allow us to effectively combat and hopefully eliminate this epidemic of the twenty-first century.


Genes and Gene–Environment Interactions in the Pathogenesis of Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome Despina Sanoudou, Elizabeth Vafiadaki, and Christos S. Mantzoros

KEY POINTS • In recent years, the prevalence of obesity has risen sharply, becoming a major public health problem, especially in western countries. • According to the World Health Organization (, an estimated 1 billion adults are overweight (body mass index > 25 kg/m2), and 300 million of these are considered clinically obese (body mass index > 30 kg/m2). • In part as a result of the rising prevalence of obesity, the incidence of the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes are also reaching the levels of an epidemic. • Although our genetic make-up has not changed significantly over the last 50 years, our diet and lifestyle have. This has unveiled how genetic predisposition can affect our response to environmental factors such as nutrition and exercise. • In the present chapter we discuss how our genes, alone and in combination with the environment, can give rise to obesity, the metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Key Words: Mutations, Polymorphisms, Chromosomal loci, Animal models

1. OBESITY Obesity is a complex trait with multifactorial etiology, including environmental, behavioral, and genetic factors. The genetic contribution to human body weight has been established through family studies, investigations of parent–offspring relationships, and the study of twins and adopted children (1,2). The estimated heritability for body weight is 40–70% (3). Although obesity was first considered to be a disease that obeys Mendelian inheritance, the application of continuously evolving molecular biology technologies

From: Nutrition and Health: Nutrition and Metabolism Edited by: C.S. Mantzoros, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1_2, © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009



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has revealed a far more complex picture for this metabolic disease and has led to fascinating new developments. The contribution of genetic factors to obesity can be either a single, dysfunctional gene (monogenic obesity) or, as in the case of common (polygenic) obesity, numerous genes that make up minor contributions in determining the phenotype. In general, the two methods used for the study of genetic factors in complex diseases include the candidate gene approach and the genome-wide scan approach. The candidate gene approach examines the association of a given allele and the presence of the disease, while the genome-wide scan, or linkage analysis, locates genes through their genomic position and is based on the rationale that family members sharing a specific phenotype will also share chromosomal regions surrounding the gene involved. Linkage and linkage disequilibrium analysis in specific rely on the fact that genes with similar chromosome positions will only rarely be separated during genetic recombination, so susceptibility to causative genes can be localized by searching for genetic markers that cosegregate. In addition to genetic studies in human families, the existence of naturally or genetically modified animal models has provided valuable information on our understanding of the pathophysiology of disease. The mouse represents the most frequently used species for the creation of transgenic or gene knockout animals, allowing the analysis of the effects of gene overexpression, modification, or deletion. Rats are also used for transgenic studies, but this animal model has practical and technical disadvantages over the mouse model and hence is less frequently used. Transgenic animal models provide critical tools for in vivo functional characterization of single genes and for the search of unknown genes implicated in disease manifestation. Nevertheless, there are also limitations that call for great care in interpreting results from transgenic animal models and in translating them to humans. For example, loss or overexpression of individual proteins may produce compensatory mechanisms that could mask the resulting phenotype. Most important however, the phenotypic or pathophysiological consequences of genetic manipulation in animal models may not always match the human disease (4).

1.1. Monogenic Obesity Initial knowledge on the genetic involvement in monogenic obesity was derived from large-scale linkage analysis in obese mice carrying naturally occurring mutations. These analyses have pointed to disease-related loci and have identified the majority of gene mutations leading to monogenic obesity in mice (3). In particular, the genetic characterization of naturally occurring obese animal models, such as ob/ob, db/db, fat and tubby mice, led to the discovery of recessive mutations in the genes encoding leptin (Lep or ob), leptin receptor (Lepr or db), carboxypeptidase E (Cpe, or fat), and tubby (Tub) (5,6). Furthermore, the latest murine obesity gene map identified 248 genes that, when mutated or expressed as transgenes in the mouse, result in phenotypes affecting body weight and adiposity (7). Transfer of this knowledge to clinical cases has confirmed the role of the above genes in human monogenic obesity and uncovered the critical role of the leptin/melanocortin pathway in the regulation of energy homeostasis (8). Briefly, this hypothalamic pathway is activated following the systemic release of leptin and its subsequent interaction with the leptin receptor located on the surface of

Chapter 2 / Genes and Gene–Environment Interactions


neurons of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. The downstream signals that regulate energy homeostasis are then propagated via proopiomelanocorin (POMC), cocaineand amphitamine-related transcript (CART) and the melanocortin system (9,10). While POMC/CART neurons synthesize the anorectic peptide α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), a separate group of neurons express the orexigenic neuropeptide Y (NPY) and the agouti-related protein, which acts as a potent inhibitor of melanocortin 3 receptor (MC3R) and melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R). To date, mutations in 11 different genes (Table 1), including LEP, LEPR, POMC, and proconvertase 1 (PC1), have been linked to obesity, in nearly 200 patients (7,30). Patients with monogenic obesity have extremely severe phenotypes that present in childhood and are often associated with additional behavioral, developmental, and endocrine disorders (31). MC4R-linked obesity represents the most prevalent form of

Table 1 Genes Implicated in Monogenic Obesity


Gene symbol





Leptin receptor Proopiomelanocortin Proconvertase 1 Melanocortin-4receptor Single-minded homolog 1 Neurotropic tyrosine kinase receptor type 2 Corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 Corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 2 G-protein-coupled receptor 24 Melanocortin-3receptor

Mode of transmission


Recessive Severe, from first days of life LEPR 1q31 Recessive Severe, from first days of life POMC 2p23.3 Recessive Severe, from first month of life PC1 5q15–q21 Recessive Considerable, from first month of life MC4R 18q22 Dominant Variable severity, early onset SIM1 6q16.3–q21 Dominant Severe, from childhood NTRK2 9q22.1 Dominant Severe, from first months of life CRHR1 17q12–q22

Reference 11–13 14, 15 16, 17 18 19–22 23 24

Dominant Severe, early onset




Not known Not known




Dominant Severe, early onset




Dominant Severe, early onset



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monogenic obesity identified to date, representing ~2–3% of childhood and adult obesity (30,32,33). MC4R is a G-protein-coupled receptor with seven transmembrane domains that plays an important role in controlling weight homeostasis (10). MC4R knockout mice develop morbid obesity and increased linear growth, whereas heterozygous mice are also obese but with a varying degree of severity (34). Investigations in the molecular mechanisms by which loss of function mutations in MC4R cause obesity have suggested a number of functional anomalies, including abnormal MC4R membrane expression, a defect in agonist response, and disruption in the intracellular transport of the protein (35). Other single gene mutations leading to obesity involve single-minded homolog 1 (SIM1), melanocortin receptor 3 (MC3R), and neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor type 2 (TRKB/NTRK2) (23,24,27). The major goal of the extensive ongoing research is the development of therapies targeting monogenic obesity, in order to ameliorate the metabolic status of obese individuals. Leptin therapy, by subcutaneous injection of leptin in children and adults deficient in this adipokine, markedly reduced their body weight, having a major effect on reducing food intake and on other dysfunctions, including immunity (36). Although treatments are not available yet for cases of LEPR, POMC-, PC1-, SIM1-, MC4R-, and TRKB-linked obesity, preliminary studies suggest that targeted therapies could be possible to develop (37).

1.2. Syndromic Obesity In addition to the monogenic forms of obesity, this phenotype is also associated with many genetic syndromes. Syndromic obesity was initially thought of as monogenic; however, the contribution of multiple genetic factors in a syndrome is significantly more challenging than localizing the single gene involved in monogenic disorders. There are currently 20–30 Mendelian disorders in which, in addition to mental retardation, dysmorphic features, and organ-specific developmental abnormalities, patients are also clinically obese (30,31). Such cases are referred to as syndromic obesity. These syndromes arise from discrete genetic defects or chromosomal abnormalities and can be either autosomal or X-linked disorders. The most common disorders known are Prader– Willi syndrome (PWS), Bardet-Biedl syndrome (BBS), and Alström syndrome (38). PWS, the most frequent of these syndromes (1 in 25,000 births), is characterized by obesity, hyperphagia, diminished fetal activity, mental retardation, and hypogonadism. PWS is caused by the absence of the paternal segment 15q11.2–q12, through chromosomal loss (39–41). Several candidate genes in this chromosomal region have been studied; however, the genetic basis of polyphagia remains undefined because none of the PWS mouse models have an obese phenotype (42). One genetic candidate that may disrupt the control of food intake is the gastric hormone ghrelin, which could act through the regulation of hunger and stimulation of growth hormone (43). BBS is characterized by early onset obesity, retinal dystrophy, morphological finger abnormalities, mental disabilities, and kidney diseases (44,45). To date, BBS has been associated with at least 12 distinct chromosomal locations, with several mutations identified so far (46–57). Although the precise function of the BBS proteins is yet to be determined, current data support a role in cilia function and intraflagellar transport (58–60).

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Alström syndrome is a very rare disorder, which in addition to obesity, is associated with congenital retinal cone dystrophy, cardiomyopathy, and type 2 diabetes (61,62). Family studies have identified several mutations in the Alström syndrome 1 gene (ALMS1), the majority of which are nonsense and frameshift (insertion or deletion) mutations predicted to lead to premature protein termination (63–65). ALMS1 is a ubiquitously expressed protein with recently proposed functional involvement in cilia formation (66,67). As the above genetic syndromes involving obesity are rare, their underlying genetic involvement has been difficult to decipher. Furthermore, even in the cases where the responsible genes have been identified, the pathophysiological link between the protein products and the development of the disease has not yet been fully elucidated.

1.3. Polygenic Obesity Polygenic, or common, obesity arises when an individual’s genetic makeup is susceptible to an environment that promotes energy intake over energy expenditure. Specifically, environments in most westernized societies favor weight gain rather than loss because of food abundance and lack of physical activity, thus rendering common obesity as a major epidemic currently challenging the medical and financial resources in these societies (37). A range of polygenic mouse models have been generated through inbreeding of mouse lines or repeated selections of noninbred mice, and have enabled the identification of >408 quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with obesity (http://obesitygene. A recent meta-analysis of ~280 QTL, from 34 mouse cross-breeding experiments involving >14,500 mice, revealed 58 QTL regions associated with body weight and adiposity ( (68). Different QTL have been associated with the age of onset and gender in obesity, while certain loci may only contribute to obesity by interacting with other loci (69). In humans, studies of polygenic obesity are based on the analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or repetition of bases (polyCAs or microsatellites) located within or near a candidate gene. These studies are carried out in family members (family study) or unrelated individuals (case–control study), and their objective is to determine a potential association between a gene’s allelic variant and obesity-related traits (70). However, unlike monogenic obesity, many genes and chromosomal regions contribute to the common obese phenotype (7,71). For this purpose, large DNA banks have been established from different populations throughout the world and are used for the extensive investigation of large number of genes and chromosomal regions. The findings of these genetic studies are reported every year by the Human Obesity Gene Map consortium. According to their latest report, 253 QTL have been identified, in 61 genome-wide scans (7). All chromosomes, except the Y chromosome, have been found linked with an obesity-related phenotype, such as fat mass, distribution of adipose tissue, resting energy expenditure, or levels of circulating leptin and insulin. Genes associated with obesity include solute carrier family 6 (neurotransmitter transporter) member 14 (SLC6A14), glutamate decarboxylase 2 (GAD2), and ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/ phosphodiesterase I (ENPPI) (72–74). These genes have been implicated in a variety of biological functions such as the regulation of food intake, energy expenditure, lipid and glucose metabolism, adipose tissue development, and inflammatory processes. Recent


Sanoudou, Vafiadaki, and Mantzoros

genome-wide association studies have identified genetic variants (SNPs) associated with obesity-related traits in both children and adults, in the fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene (75–77, 272). It has been proposed that through its catalytic activity, FTO may regulate the transcription of genes involved in metabolism (78). In contrast to genetically identical mice, whose environments can be controlled, the genetic and environmental diversity in humans has proved problematic for data replication. To date, only 22 obesity-related genes are supported by at least five positive studies (7,37). The reasons for the lack of replication in association and linkage studies include lack of statistical power to detect modest effect, lack of control over type I error rate, and overinterpretation of marginal data (79). Thus, the use of novel approaches may provide the means to circumvent classical statistical obstacles in identifying new candidate genes and possible gene–environment interactions (see Sect. 4). The immense ongoing research on the identification of new molecular targets for antiobesity drugs and the significance of the generated findings is reflected by the rapidly increasing number of patent applications. Specifically, a total of 173 US patents were issued between January 2001 and March 2004, with the word “obesity” included in the abstract (80,81). Among the molecular targets with the highest number of new patents are the serotonin receptor ligands (24 patents), neuropeptide Y receptor ligands (20 patents), and adrenergic receptor ligands (20 patents).

2. THE METABOLIC SYNDROME AND TYPE 2 DIABETES 2.1. The Metabolic Syndrome The term metabolic syndrome (occasionally called insulin resistance syndrome) refers to a constellation of clinical findings including obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and insulin resistance, with increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It has also been linked with chronic kidney disease, liver disease with steatosis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis, and cognitive decline and dementia. Despite recent controversy regarding the concept of a metabolic syndrome, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) developed a new unifying worldwide definition building upon the World Health Organization (WHO) and ATP III definitions, as will be discussed in later chapters (82). On the basis of the IDF definition, almost 40% of US adults are classified as having the metabolic syndrome (83). Although environmental factors such as smoking, low economic status, high intake of carbohydrates, no alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity can play a role in the development of the metabolic syndrome, a series of evidence indicates that there is also a genetic component involved. Specifically the metabolic syndrome has different prevalence between men and women, and among ethnic groups, as well as different concordance rates between monozygotic twins. Furthermore, there is increased incidence in individuals with a parental history of metabolic syndrome, and a general familial clustering of the metabolic syndrome and its components (83–91). Ongoing work on spontaneous and engineered animal models has revealed that several genetic loci are associated with metabolic syndrome components in different rodent models (92). Examples of metabolic syndrome rodent models include the spontaneous hypertensive rat (SHR), the transgenic SHR overexpressing a dominant-positive form of the human sterol regulatory element binding transcription factor 1 (SREBP-1), the SHR/

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NDmcr-cp rat, the polydactylous rat strain (PD/cub), the obese Zucker rats (OZR), the New Zealand obese (NZO), the Wistar Ottawa Karlsburg W rats, as well as congenic, consomic, and double-introgressed strains (93–100). Linkage analyses in patients with the metabolic syndrome have aimed at identifying loci with pleiotropic effects on multiple aspects of the syndrome. Several different linkage analysis approaches have been applied in the study of the metabolic syndrome, such as principal components or principal factor analysis, multivariate analysis, metabolic syndrome score from combined residuals and the structural equation model (101). One of the most consistent findings was the linkage to chromosome 1q, while multiple phenotypes linked to this region indicate that it likely harbors a gene with pleiotropic effects on measure of glucose, lipids, hypertension, and adipocity, or multiple genes that contribute to each one of these features (102–106). Other consistent loci implicated in the development of the metabolic syndrome include chromosomes 2p, 2q, 3p, 6q, 7q, 9q, and 15q (103,106–111). Many of these loci have also been linked to individual components of the metabolic syndrome. For example, chromosome 2p has been linked to serum triglycerides, systolic blood pressure, obesity, body fat percentage, and HDL (111–113), while chromosome 7q has been linked to systolic blood pressure, triglyceride–HDL-C ratio, fasting glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance (114–116). Despite the wide use and important findings that have emerged from linkage analysis, this method presents with a number of limitations that need to be carefully considered and addressed in the interpretation of current findings and the design of future studies. Some of the common obstacles in this type of studies are the inadequate statistical power, the multiple hypothesis testing, the population stratification, the publication bias and phenotypic variation (117). The identification of true genetic associations in common multifactorial conditions, such as the metabolic syndrome, requires large studies consisting of thousands of subjects. This need is further accentuated by the large number of implicated genetic loci and their potentially small contribution to the phenotype when individually considered. In parallel to linkage and association studies, several studies have evaluated the contribution of specific candidate genes to the metabolic syndrome pathogenesis. These candidate genes have been selected based on their biological function and/or previous associations to any of the phenotypic aspects of the syndrome. However, the large number of metabolic pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome (including insulin signaling, glucose homeostasis, lipoprotein metabolism, adipogenesis, inflammation, coagulation, etc.) renders this search a highly challenging task that has yielded a relatively limited success. There are many examples of genes directly or indirectly implicated in the development of the metabolic syndrome or specific clinical features related to it, but an equal number of negative studies have also been published (118). The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARg) is one of the strong candidates for conferring susceptibility to the metabolic syndrome because of its involvement in adipocyte differentiation, fatty acid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and glucose homeostasis (119–121). Despite some inconsistencies in the PPARγ association studies, the overall evidence seems to suggest that PPARg polymorphisms can increase the risk for developing the metabolic syndrome (122–124). Direct correlations to the metabolic


Sanoudou, Vafiadaki, and Mantzoros

syndrome have also been described for genetic variants of the β3-adrenergic receptor (ADRb-3), nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS3), angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE), beacon (BEACON), lamin A/C (LMNA), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-β (IL1-b), and protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 1 (PTPN1) genes (122,125–131). Interestingly, PPARg and IL1-b polymorphisms have been implicated in gene–environment interactions (see Sect. 4). Fatty acid binding protein 2 (FABP2) and apolipoprotein C-III (APOC3) polymorphisms have been directly associated with increased risk for dyslipidemia and the metabolic syndrome in Asian-Indians (132). Other examples include a number of lipidsensitive transcription factors (nuclear receptor subfamily 1, member 4 (FXR), nuclear receptor subfamily 1, member 3 (LXR-a), retinoid X receptor α (RXR-a), PPAR-a, PPAR-d, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PGC1-a), PCG1-b, sterol regulatory element binding transcription factor 1 (SREBP-1c)) that have been implicated in the development of dyslipidemia, one of the very early features of the metabolic syndrome (124). Since lipoprotein metabolism plays a central role in the metabolic syndrome, several genes related to the former are also good candidates for the latter. These include variants of scavenger receptor class B, member 1 (SCARB1), ATP-binding cassette subfamily A, member 1 (ABCA1), cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP), lipoprotein lipase (LPL), lipase (LIPG), pancreatic lipase (PNLIP), apolipoprotein A-V (APOA5), and the apolipoprotein gene clusters ApoA1/C3/A4/A5 and ApoE/C1/C2 that affect HDL-cholesterol and triaglyceride metabolism (133–138).

2.2. Hypertension Hypertension is one of the components of the metabolic syndrome and a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Similar to obesity and the metabolic syndrome, hypertension seems to be the outcome of combined genetic and environmental etiologies (139). Mutations in eight genes have been identified to cause severe but rare forms of monogenic hypertension (140). Interestingly, all of these genes participate in the same physiological pathway in the kidney, altering net renal salt reabsorption. However, the genetic factors behind the common, less severe forms of hypertension, collectively termed essential hypertension (i.e., hypertension with unknown cause), are poorly understood. A large number of candidate gene, linkage, and association studies have sporadically implicated a range of different genetic loci in hypertension development. Polymorphisms in the angiotensinogen (AGT), the natriuretic peptide receptor A (NRP1), and ACE are prime examples of the most consistent findings in the literature (141–144). Nonetheless, genome-wide linkage analyses have not consistently implicated specific chromosomal loci, suggesting a model in which there may be many loci, each imparting small effects on hypertension in the general population (145–148). Similar to other multifactorial diseases, the study of hypertension in humans will require the consistent replication of results in large and rigorously characterized populations that are well suited for detecting alleles imparting small effects. Such populations would include cohorts of unrelated individuals as well as family-based linkage disequilibrium studies. These latter tests minimize the chance of false-positive associations arising from population admixture of individuals of different genetic backgrounds (149). Meta-analysis of the combined results from multiple different studies/populations can also greatly contribute towards

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this end, as for example in the case of a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) polymorphism that appears to be significantly associated with hypertension in multiple populations (150). In parallel to human studies, a series of spontaneous and engineered animal models of hypertension have been extensively studied. For example, inbred rat strains that display hypertension as an inherited trait have long been used as a means for identifying genes that can give rise to essential hypertension. Examples of these strains include SHRs, Dahl salt-sensitive rats, Sabra hypertensive-prone rats, Molan, Lyon, fawn-hooded and Prague hypertensive rats (151). Importantly, some of the findings in these animal models have later been translated to humans, such as in the case of brain and muscle Arnt-like protein-1 (Bmal1) polymorphisms which are associated with susceptibility to hypertension and type 2 diabetes (152). Congenic and consomic rat strains have also been used to identify QTL for hypertension, in an effort to eliminate the variability arising from the often heterogeneous genetic background of these animals (151,153–157). In support of the notion that hypertension is a polygenic condition, at least one blood-pressure-related QTL has been identified on almost all rat chromosomes (151). Genetically engineering mouse models with increased or decreased expression of targeted genes has also provided useful insights (158). For example, deletions of various genes (including the bradykinin B2 receptor, D1A and D3 dopamine receptors, atrial natriuretic peptide, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, and others) have resulted in elevated blood pressure, while in other cases, gene mutations have had little or no effect (159–163). Furthermore, mouse models have enabled the confirmation of various observations in humans, and the more detailed characterization of the disease physiology (158).

2.3. Type 2 Diabetes Diabetes mellitus represents a group of metabolic disorders characterized by hyperglycemia resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. The pathogenic processes involved in the development of diabetes range from autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic β cells with consequent insulin deficiency to abnormalities that result in resistance to insulin action (164). There are two main etiopathogenetic categories of diabetes: (1) type 1 diabetes, which is caused by deficiency of insulin secretion and rises independently of obesity or the metabolic syndrome (will be covered in Sect. 3), and (2) type 2 diabetes, which is caused by a combination of resistance to insulin action and inadequate compensatory insulin secretion. Type 2 diabetes, or noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is the most frequent form of diabetes, accounting for 90% of the disease prevalence, with an estimated 150 million affected people worldwide (165,166). Overall, type 2 diabetes is characterized by impairment of insulin secretion and decrease in insulin sensitivity. Initial studies in families with rare monogenic forms of diabetes pointed towards a genetic component of type 2 diabetes (167). However, it has become evident that the incidence of the disease is also affected by environmental influences, such as lifestyle and diet. On the basis of the role of genetic factors, type 2 diabetes may be divided into monogenic and polygenic forms, where monogenic forms are the consequence of rare mutations in a single gene whereas polygenic forms are the result of the interaction between the environment and genetic contribution of many different genes (168,169).


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2.3.1. Polygenic Type 2 Diabetes Polygenic, or the common form, type 2 diabetes is a complex and heterogeneous disorder that is influenced by the contribution/impact of multiple genes and various environmental factors that can affect disease predisposition. In many cases obesity and the metabolic syndrome precede the development of type 2 diabetes. Owing to its complexity, with both gene–gene and gene–environment interactions, the genetic influences on this form of type 2 diabetes have been difficult to elucidate and the identification of genes has not been easily achieved (Fig. 1). Animal models for type 2 diabetes have enabled the study of the molecular pathways involved in disease pathophysiology, providing useful information on the molecular etiology of type 2 diabetes and pointing towards potential therapeutic interventions. The numerous spontaneous animal models for type 2 diabetes have facilitated our understanding of disease physiology and have aided towards the identification of underlying genetic factors. Examples of such models include the Nagoya-Shibata-Yasuda (NSY) mouse model, which spontaneously develops diabetes in an age-dependent manner, the diabetic db/db mice and the KK mouse strain, which shows inherently glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (170–172). Additional spontaneous animal models presenting insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion include the Goto Kakizaki rat, the Otsuka LongEvans Tokushima fatty (OLETF) rat and the Zucker Diabetic Fatty rat model (173–175). Genome-wide linkage scans in OLETF rats have identified susceptibility loci on chromosomes 1, 7, 14, and the X chromosome, while a sequence variation in the hepatocyte nuclear factor 1β (Hnf1b), a gene implicated in human MODY (maturity-onset diabetes of the young) disease, was identified in the NSY mouse model (176–178). In addition to spontaneous animal models, an increasing number of genetically engineered models have been generated for type 2 diabetes. In an attempt to recreate the human disease in animals, investigations have focused on the understanding of β-cell dysfunction or insulin resistance pathways. Depending on the targeted protein and its importance on insulin signaling, various degrees of insulin resistance can be created. Insulin-receptor (IRS)-deficient mice were among the first knockout mice to be generated with affected proteins in the insulin signaling cascade. Heterozygous mice exhibit normal glucose tolerance and only 10% of adult animals develop diabetes, while homozygous

Fig. 1. Progress in the identification of susceptibility genes for type 1 and type 2 diabetes over the past decade.

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IRS-deficient mice rapidly develop diabetes and die within 3–7 days after birth, thus demonstrating the essential role of IRS in the control of glucose metabolism (179,180). Deficiency of the insulin receptor substrate 1 protein (IRS-1) in mice results in postnatal growth retardation with only mild insulin resistance and no diabetes, whereas deletion of IRS-2 causes impaired insulin signaling and β-cell function, resulting in progressive deterioration of glucose metabolism (181,182). On the other hand, IRS-3 and IRS-4 knockout mice show respectively either mild glucose intolerance or have no phenotype, therefore suggesting that they are unlikely to play a major role in glucose homeostasis (183,184). In an attempt to resemble the polygenic nature of type 2 diabetes, polygenic animal models containing combined gene disruptions have been created. Double heterozygous mice for IRS and IRS-1 exhibit a synergistic impairment on insulin action, presenting a phenotype that is much stronger than individual gene deficiency (185). In contrast to their respective individual gene deficiency models, double knockout mice for IRS-1 and β-cell glucokinase (Gck) develop overt diabetes, demonstrating that combination of minor mutations in genes involved in either insulin action alone or insulin secretion and action can cause diabetes (186). Overall, polygenic mouse models have demonstrated that, when combined, minor defects in insulin secretion and action can lead to diabetes, therefore emphasizing the interaction between different genetic loci in diabetes. Animal models with tissue-specific inactivation of insulin receptor genes have also been generated, in order to assess insulin action in individual tissues. These include the muscle-specific insulin receptor knockout mice, the liver insulin receptor knockout mice, and the β-cell insulin receptor knockout mice (187–189). Such tissue-specific models have helped in dissecting the contribution of individual insulin-responsive organs to glucose metabolism. In humans, candidate gene analyses towards the identification of type-2–diabetesrelated genes have focused on genes implicated in insulin resistance and particularly in β-cell development, insulin signaling, or hypothalamic regulation. This has included genes such as the PPARg, the ATP-binding cassette subfamily C member 8 (ABCC8) and potassium-inward rectifier 6.2 (KCJN11), and IRS-1 (119,190). The best-characterized and most robust variant is the highly prevalent Pro21Ala polymorphism in PPARg. Two meta-analyses have shown that the proline allele, which is the most frequent allele, is associated with a moderate increase in risk for type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, a 21–27% risk reduction was shown for the presence of the alanine allele, hence suggesting that the alanine genotype results in greater insulin sensitivity (191–193).Other meta-analyses studies have determined that in the KCJN11 gene, which encodes the ATP-sensitive potassium channel subunit Kir6.2, the frequent variant E23K shows association with a slightly increased susceptibility to type 2 diabetes in some populations, with the risk for the disease increasing by about 15% in the presence of the K allele (190,194). However, in many cases the initial associations have not been replicated in subsequent studies. For example, a meta-analysis of ~9,000 individuals initially determined that the G971R variant in IRS-1 had a significant effect on diabetes risk; however, two subsequent studies failed to confirm this association (195–197). To date, more that 50 linkage studies have been conducted in a variety of populations. Although initially the regions of linkage determined by the different studies were inconsistent (because of differences in study design, family configuration, ethnic


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heterogeneity), the completion of additional scans revealed that some chromosomal regions, and in particular chromosomes 1q21–24, 1q31–q42, 9q21, 10q23, 11p15, 12q12, 19q13, and 20q11–q13, are showing positive association with the disease in more than one study (198). Calpain 10 (CAPN10) was the first polygenic diabetes gene to be cloned (199) and it encodes for a ubiquitously expressed cysteine protease. Although widespread acceptance of CAPN10 as a type-2-diabetes-predisposing gene was not initially achieved, recent studies have provided further evidence for the biological importance of CAPN10 variation in susceptibility for the disease. A meta-analysis of more than 7,500 patients of diverse ethnic origin has determined a significant association for the presence of a CAPN10 variant (SNP-44; CAPN10-g4841 T → C) and the disease (200). It has been proposed that genetic variants of CAPN10 might affect insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion, or the relation between the two (201–203). Other genes associated with the common form of type 2 diabetes include transcription factor 7-like 2 gene (TCF7L2) (204,205), FTO (77,206,273), and ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 1 (ENPP1), genetic variants of which impair insulin binding to its receptor in muscle and brain, hence leading to fat deposition (207). The shape of genetic association studies for type 2 diabetes is set to be transformed in the next few years, with the advent of truly genome-wide association scans. The availability of array-based platforms that will allow the performance of massive parallel genotyping (between 250,000 and 1 million SNPs per assay), combined with the information provided by the International HapMap Consortium, will provide powerful means for a global view of genetic associations in type 2 diabetes (208). Indeed, through the simultaneous analysis of thousands of genetic variants (SNPs) in large diabetes patient cohorts, genome-wide association studies have recently identified the solute carrier family 30 member 8 (SLC30A8), the insulin degrading enzyme (IDE), and hematopoetically expressed homeodomain HHEX (HHEX/IDE) genes, as well as the cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (CDK5) regulatory subunit associated protein-1-like 1 (CDKAL1) melatonin receptor 1B (MTNR1B) (274), the insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA binding protein (IGF2BP2), and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A) genes as type 2 diabetes susceptibility genes (204,206, 209, 210). However, as these loci explain a small proportion of the observed familial cases of the disease, it is expected that additional loci will be revealed in the near future by further systematic screens (211). Our understanding of the molecular pathways involved in the pathogenesis of the disease could also be enhanced by the utilization of novel technologies. For example, the microarray technology has been used to identify differential mRNA expression patterns in muscle tissue of type 2 diabetes patients and normal controls (212). The application of metabolomics, which is defined as the measurement of all metabolites present within a cell, tissue, or organism following genetic medication or physiological stimulus, will also contribute valuable insights into the understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease as it provides the potential of globally profiling the metabolome of an organism (213,214). Although few studies of metabolomics have focused on diabetes, a recent application of the technology to type 2 diabetes has identified characteristic alterations in the plasma phospholipids profile, therefore enabling the identification of patients from control individuals (215,216).

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2.3.2. Monogenic Type 2 Diabetes The monogenic form of type 2 diabetes constitutes a small group accounting for ~5% of the disease and is characterized by high phenotypic penetrance, early disease onset, and often a severe clinical picture (69,168,169). The most frequent monogenic type 2 diabetes form is the autosomal dominant MODY, a term that was first used by Tattersall and Fajans in 1975 (217). So far, six genes responsible for MODY have been described, and they include hepatocyte nuclear factor-4α, -1α, -1β (HNF-4a, -1a, -1b), GCK, insulin promoter factor 1α (IPF-1a), and neurogenic differentiation 1 (NEUROD1) (218–223). All of the MODY genes are expressed in the pancreatic β-cells, and, with the exception of GCK, all code for transcription factors with a role in β-cell development and function (224). Moreover, these MODY genes are functionally related, forming part of an integrated transcriptional network. However, as in 16–45% of MODY families, termed MODY X, there have been no mutations detected in any of the known MODY genes, it has been proposed that additional MODY genes could exist (225,226). In addition to the established MODY genes, mutations in familial diabetes have been implicated in two other genes, mitogen-activated protein kinase 8 interacting protein 1 (MAPK8IP1), which codes for another β-cell transcription factor, and ABCC8, the gene that codes for SUR1 (227,228). Another monogenic form of type 2 diabetes, with distinct molecular involvement, is the maternally inherited diabetes. This is a very rare form of the disease that is caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA, most often by mutations in the tRNA for leucine (229). Maternally inherited diabetes is associated with deafness (maternally inherited diabetes with deafness) or mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes syndrome (MELAS) (230,231). Mitochondrial mutations could perturb glucose homeostasis/metabolism through impairment of the glucosensory function of the β cells and their decreased ability for insulin production (232).

3. TYPE 1 DIABETES Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), or type 1 diabetes, is characterized by autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing β cells in the pancreas and severe insulin deficiency (233). Type 1 diabetes accounts for around 10% of all cases of diabetes, occurs more frequently in people of European descent, and affects 2 million people in Europe and North America (234). Currently, there is a 3% global increase in incidence per year, but this is predicted to increase considerably within the next few years (235). Type 1 diabetes is a complex trait, the etiology of which has only been partially characterized. It is generally recognized though that the disease has both genetic (Fig. 1) and environmental influences. The advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology and the genetic factors underlying type 1 diabetes have benefited immensely from studies on spontaneous or genetically manipulated animal models of the disease. Autoimmune diabetes in such models shares many molecular and genetic characteristics to human type 1 diabetes. Animal models have therefore provided valuable information that can be applied on studies of human type-1-diabetes-associated molecular and cellular pathways. The nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse represents the most studied


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animal model for type 1 diabetes and has been utilized for the determination of over 20 non-HLA regions (known as insulin-dependent diabetes, Idd) associated with disease risk in this diabetic mouse strain (236). By narrowing down genetic intervals in animal models, a small number of candidate genes have been highlighted for association testing in human patients. An example of this is illustrated by the IL-2 pathway, which was considered as a candidate for the Idd3 locus in the nonobese diabetic mouse. Following extensive investigation, its involvement in human disease was revealed. Analysis of its orthologue gene in humans confirmed its association in type 1 diabetes, therefore providing an example where genes discovered in animal models can be considered as primary candidates for investigation in humans (236). Other widely used animal models include the BioBreeding diabetes-prone rat and the Komeda diabetes-prone rat (237). In addition to the naturally occurring animal models, a range of transgenic animals have been generated for a long series of different genes, including major histocompatibility molecules (e.g., D57, HLA-DRa, HLA-DQ6), cytokines (Il2, Tnfα, Tgfβ1), autoantigens (proinsulin, HSP60, GAD), costimulatory molecules (Cd152, Cd80), and T-cell receptors (BDC2.5, 8.3) (69). Through association studies and linkage analysis in humans, an increasing number – 19 to date – of IDDM susceptibility loci have been identified (named by the abbreviation IDDM and a number reflecting the order with which they were reported, e.g., IDDM1, IDDM2, etc.) (69,238,239). The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) locus on chromosome 6p21 was the first to be associated with the disease and is thought to contribute for around 50% of the familial basis of type 1 diabetes (234,240–242). It has been shown that the HLA-DR4-DQ8 and HLA-DR3-DQ2 haplotypes are present in 90% of children with type 1 diabetes, whereas HLA-DR15-DQ6 is found in only 1% of affected children but more than 20% in the general population, therefore suggesting that it is protective (243). The genotype combining the two susceptibility haplotypes (DR4-DQ8/DR3-DQ2) contributes the greatest risk for the disease. Despite extensive research, the specific details as to how genes in this region modulate type 1 diabetes risk have still not been fully elucidated. The insulin gene, or IDDM2 locus, on chromosome 11p15.5 was the second locus to be identified and is the second most common factor, contributing to 10% of the genetic susceptibility of type 1 diabetes (244). Susceptibility in the insulin gene has been primarily mapped to a variable number of tandem repeats located in the promoter region of the gene. Shorter forms of these repeats are associated with susceptibility to the diseases whereas longer repeats are associated with protection (245). Other genes associated with type 1 diabetes include cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4), protein tyrosine phosphatase, nonreceptor type 22 (PTPN22), small ubiquitin-like modifier 4 (SUMO4), and the α-chain of interleukin-2 receptor gene (IL2R) (246–248,275,276,277). The KIAA0350 gene, encoding for a protein with predicted sugar binding properties, was the latest one identified (249). Overall, a number of whole genome scans using families and affected sibling pairs performed over the past decade have provided evidence for the existence of many additional loci associated with type 1 diabetes, including but not limited to the IDDM loci (211,250–254,278). In a coordinated effort on the analysis of existing type 1 diabetes families for the elucidation of the genetic etiology of the disease, the type 1 Diabetes Genetics Consortium (T1DGC) ( has been established. The T1DGC represents a worldwide collaboration on the study of a large collection of patients and their families

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from around the world. The first report from this consortium was published in 2005, and it included a combined linkage analysis of four datasets, three previously published genome scans, and a new dataset of 254 families (252). The T1DGC analysis included 1,435 families with 1,636 affected sibling pairs from the UK, the USA, and Scandinavia, representing one of the largest linkage studies performed so far. In addition to HLA, this large study determined evidence for linkage to ten other chromosomal regions. In particular chromosomes 2q31–q33, 6q21, 10p14–q11, and 16q22–24 showed genomewide significance, therefore indicating a strong non-HLA genetic contribution to type 1 diabetes (252). The T1Dbase database ( ) represents a powerful resource, which combines and organizes data for type 1 diabetes, focusing on the molecular genetics and biology of disease susceptibility and pathogenesis (255). This public database allows scientists to search across different data sources/types, and thus find new relationships among factors contributing to the complex pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes (256). In addition to the genetic contributions of type 1 diabetes, it is becoming evident that additional factors, such as environmental influences, are also involved in the development of the disease. Such factors include viruses, such as enteroviruses, rotavirus, and rubella (257,258). Nevertheless, even though Finland has effectively eradicated rubella through vaccination, it has one of the highest incidences of type 1 diabetes. This therefore supports the hygiene hypothesis, which proposes that environmental exposure to microbes early in life promotes innate immune responses that suppress atopy and autoimmunity. To address the role of environmental factors in type 1 diabetes, large-scale studies are required. For this purpose, the international consortium Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY; http://www.niddk.nih. gov/patient/TEDDY/TEDDY.htm) has been established so as to follow large number of babies with high-risk HLA genotypes during early life and thus identify infectious agents, dietary factors, or other environmental factors that could trigger autoimmunity in susceptible populations (234).

3.1. Evidence for Genetic Overlap between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Even though, as described above, type 1 and type 2 diabetes represent two different disease entities, the clinical and etiological distinction between them is becoming more difficult as there is increasing evidence of a significant overlap between the two disease states. Clinical studies have reported that even within the same family both type 1 and type 2 diabetes may co-occur and patients with such double genetic predisposition have intermediate phenotype (259). As an example of common genetic predisposition, a variable number of tandem repeats polymorphism in the insulin gene promoter region has been associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes (259). The “accelerator hypothesis” suggests that both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the same disorder of insulin resistance set against different genetic background (260). According to this hypothesis, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are one and the same entity, distinguished only by the rate of β cell loss. Instead of overlap between the two types of diabetes, the hypothesis envisages overlay between the two types, with one disease representing a subset of the other.


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4. GENE–ENVIRONMENT INTERACTION All evidence so far appears to support a shared genetic and environmental (with diet and exercise being among the most important) contribution to disease predisposition, including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes (Fig. 2). Nevertheless, the relative contribution of each of these two main parameters and the extent of their interaction are difficult to determine, and varies for each condition. It is noteworthy, that although the human genome has not changed significantly over the last few decades, the prevalence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes are increasing exponentially. Although the genetic and environmental factors have long been studied independently, an increasing effort is now placed on deciphering the gene–environment interaction. Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes are classic examples of such gene– environment interactions (261–263). For example, in a cohort of 287 monozygotic and 189 dizygotic young adult male twin pairs, it was shown that sedentary twins were more likely to develop high waist circumference if they were genetically susceptible to obesity than if they were not (264). The complexity, however, of these multifactorial diseases has emphasized the need for development of more sophisticated statistical methods that would enable more accurate assessment of the interplay between complex combinations of multiple gene variants and environmental factors (265). A large set of common genetic variants are currently under study in the European programs Nutrient–Gene Interactions in Human Obesity (NUGENOB) (http://www. and Diet, Obesity and Genes (DIOGENES) (http://www.diogenes-eu. org). Such programs comprising both academic and industrial partners, aim to study gene–environment interactions and thus identify genetic determinants susceptible to environmental stimuli that are capable of influencing obesity development. Within these programs, the use of comprehensive platforms (i.e., genetics, transcriptomics, peptidomics, and metabolomics) coupled with clinical data will have a predominant role in elucidating the perturbed functions leading to obesity, and ultimately in developing better targeted therapies. In the context of the metabolic syndrome development, a study of 303 elderly twin pairs recently showed that glucose intolerance, obesity, and low HDL-cholesterol concentrations are significantly higher among monozygotic twins than among dizygotic twins,

Fig. 2. Genetic polymorphisms can affect predisposition to mutlifactorial diseases, such as obesity, on their own or in response to environmental factors, such as nutrition and exercise.

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indicating a genetic influence on the development of these phenotypes. In contrast, the heritability estimates for hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, and hypertriacylglycerolemia are low, indicating a more important environmental influence on these components of the metabolic syndrome (266). Nevertheless, gene–environment interactions are slowly emerging for them too. For example, polymorphisms in endothelin 1 (EDN1) are associated with increased risk for hypertension in low-fit, but not in high-fit, white individuals (267). Similar observations are emerging for the other multifactorial conditions described in this chapter, and they are likely to play a key role in addressing and reversing the current epidemic of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

4.1. Nutrigenomics One of the rapidly expanding scientific fields that address the way genes and bioactive food components interact is nutrigenomics. It specifically focuses on understanding how diet (1) affects the genome, directly (e.g. via methylation) or indirectly (e.g. at the gene expression level); (2) may compensate for or accentuate the effect of genetic polymorphisms; and (3) can alter the risk for disease development by interfering with the molecular processes involved in disease onset, incidence, progression, and/or severity. The ultimate goal is the in-depth understanding of the genome–nutrient interaction, which will lead to carefully targeted dietary intervention strategies for restoring health and fitness and for preventing diet-related disease. Many studies are beginning to address the interplay between genome and nutrition, such as in the case of type 2 diabetes (268). A characteristic example of the importance of nutrigenomic studies lies in the discovery of a polymorphism in the angiotensinogen gene, which alters the effect of dietary fiber on human blood pressure. Specifically, individuals with the angiotensinogen TT genotype have decreased blood pressure, when provided with high insoluble fiber diets. In contrast, individuals with the TM or MM genotype do not experience a significant effect on their blood pressure in response to dietary fiber (269). Similarly, in individuals with a specific polymorphism in PPARgamma (Pro12Ala), a low polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio is associated with an increase in body mass index and fasting insulin concentrations, suggesting that when the dietary polyunsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio is low, the body mass index in Ala carriers is greater than that in Pro homozygotes (270). When the dietary ratio is high, the opposite is seen. Analysis of 1,120 white subjects in the context of the Genetics of Lipid Lowering Drugs and Diet Network (GOLDN) Study demonstrated that common genetic variants at the IL1b locus were associated with risk of metabolic syndrome and related phenotypes. Importantly, a significant interaction was identified between dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids, and specifically docosahexaenoic acids and eicosapentaenoic acids, intake and the IL1b 6054G>A polymorphism, with AA subjects having significantly lower risk of metabolic syndrome. This suggests that the increasing genetic predisposition towards the development of metabolic syndrome in these individuals, could be reduced by a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, supporting the notion that more tailored dietary recommendations could be successfully used to prevent chronic diseases (131). Furthermore, the Framingham Heart Study, involving 2,148 participants, identified an APOA5 polymorphism that was associated with polyunsaturated fatty acid intake in a dose-dependent manner thus determining fasting triglyceride levels (271).


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5. FUTURE DIRECTIONS Current technological advances are enabling an unprecedented width and speed of scientific discovery, thus increasing rapidly our understanding of the genetic etiology of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. Although the number of disease-associated genes has recently risen sharply, many more yet-to-be-discovered genes are believed to be implicated in the above-mentioned complex diseases. Better designed, large-scale, multipopulation meta-analyses are starting to provide the necessary statistical power and biological breadth to uncover new genetic players in disease development. In parallel to causative gene mutations and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs – the most common form of polymorphisms associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes), new forms of genome variation such as DNA copy number variants or novel mechanisms of genome/transcriptome regulation, such as microRNAs, are introducing an additional level of complexity that needs to be considered. Advanced technological tools, together with cumulative biological knowledge, will allow us to answer the many open questions in disease pathophysiology such as, for example, the effect of type 1 diabetes genetic variants in immune response and tolerance or their role on insulin action and β-cell function in type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, the long-suspected gene–environment interplay will be molecularly deciphered through rapidly evolving disciplines such as nutrigenomics. All this wealth of knowledge should translate in presymptomatic genetic diagnosis and effective preventive approaches, as well as improved clinical management when disease development is inevitable. Therapies will be better targeted to specific molecular pathways and therefore likely to be more efficient and effective. Ultimately, the advent of pharmacogenomics will allow the promise of personalized medicine to be fulfilled.

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Environmental Inputs, Intake of Nutrients, and Endogenous Molecules Contributing to the Regulation of Energy Homeostasis Theodore Kelesidis, Iosif Kelesidis, and Christos S. Mantzoros

KEY POINTS • In the last 20 years the rapid increase in obesity and associated pathologies in developed countries has been accompanied by intensification of research efforts and subsequently a substantial increase in the knowledge of the physiological and molecular mechanisms regulating body mass. • These efforts have resulted in the recent discovery of new peripheral hormonal signals as well as new neuropeptides, involved in body-weight homeostasis. • This review summarizes new research findings in the area of energy balance regulation, starting from the original classical hypotheses proposing metabolite sensing, through peripheral tissue–brain interactions, and coming full circle to the recently discovered pathways regulating energy homeostasis. • Understanding these molecular mechanisms will provide new pharmacological targets for the treatment of obesity and eating disorders and associated comorbidities.

Key Words: Body-weight homeostasis, Energy balance regulation, Obesity, Eating disorders

1. INTRODUCTION The incidences of both obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus are rising at epidemic proportions and have emerged as a major threat to human health in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. Growing evidence suggests that nutrient and hormonal

From: Nutrition and Health: Nutrition and Metabolism Edited by: C.S. Mantzoros (ed.), DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1_3, © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009



Kelesidis, Kelesidis, and Mantzoros

signals converge and act directly on brain centers, leading to changes in fuel metabolism. Many newly discovered molecules that are proposed to play an active role in the physiology and pathophysiology of energy homeostasis have changed our understanding of obesity and metabolism and have attracted the attention of many researchers who strive to investigate and characterize the mechanisms underlying energy homeostasis. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize our current understanding of peripheral pathways regulating energy homeostasis and to outline new targets for the treatment of obesity, metabolic disorders, and associated comorbidities.

2. INPUTS IMPORTANT IN THE REGULATION OF ENERGY HOMEOSTASIS Afferent signals to the brain convey information via exogenous and/or environmental factors influencing energy homeostasis, nutrients or metabolic factors, and finally hormonal signals regarding long- or short-term energy availability. These inputs can be classified into three distinct types, namely, neural environmental, nutrient/metabolic, and endocrine signals.

2.1. Exogenous Inputs–Environmental Signals In modern societies of affluence, high palatability and orosensory properties of certain foods, in combination with environmental influences that promote a sedentary way of life, promote a positive energy balance and development of obesity. Mood and other signals that affect “emotional eating” and are being processed by complex neural circuits have a significant effect on these environmental signals and also regulate energy homeostasis.

2.2. Metabolic Signals Sensors expressed in hypothalamic neurons such as ion channels (1,2) and surface enzymes (3) act as direct sensors of nutrients such as carbohydrates and lipids and activate intracellular second messenger pathways to regulate energy homeostasis. The role of nutrients and metabolic signals to regulate energy homeostasis is discussed in detail below.

2.3. Endocrine Signals Hormones are released from peripheral endocrine organs, including the white adipose tissue (leptin), pancreas (insulin, amylin), stomach (ghrelin), and intestine (cholecystokinin, CCK). Hormonal signals such as the adipose-tissue-secreted hormone leptin and the pancreatic hormone insulin regulate the long-term metabolic status and body’s energy stores whereas other signals such as gastrointestinal hormones convey information on the amount or composition of the food entering the gastrointestinal tract.

2.4. Neural Signals Short-term regulation of feeding is also regulated by neural afferent signals from the periphery which are activated by a combination of mechanical stimuli (distension, contraction) (4), chemical stimuli (presence of nutrients in the gut lumen), and neurohumoral stimuli (gut hormones, neurotransmitters) (5) and are mainly conveyed via the vagus nerve to important CNS target centers such as the hypothalamus and the brain

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stem. The central integration of exogenous, environmental metabolic and peripherally secreted molecules by the CNS is discussed in detail in the subsequent chapter.

3. ENVIRONMENTAL INPUTS The rapidly changing environment and the associated lifestyle changes are increasingly recognised as one of the primary causes of obesity in western nations (6).The impact of the environment on energy balance seems to be unidirectional; modern lifestyle promotes sedentary rather than physically active pursuits and thus positive rather than negative energy balance (7–9). Variations in the specific set of susceptibility genes of individuals determine the physiological impact of particular factors by which lifestyle and the environment influence energy balance (10) and subsequently individual susceptibility to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Hill et al. (11) proposed that susceptibility to developing obesity could be due to metabolic susceptibility (e.g., tendency to store rather than burn excess body fat, differences in skeletal muscle composition), and/or to behavioral susceptibility (tendency to overeat or to be sedentary). The fact that obesity rates have been gradually increasing might also suggest that people with a high metabolic susceptibility are experiencing weight gain first as the environment becomes more obesigenic (i.e., increased food availability, high energy dense food supply, decreased need for physical activity). How are exogenous–environmental inputs contributing to the regulation of energy homeostasis? It is important to recognize the existence of at least two influential systems. First a central neural network stretching from the hypothalamus to the caudal medulla, responsive to leptin and other peripherally secreted signals conveying information on energy and metabolic status, has been identified as the homeostatic control system for the regulation of food intake and energy balance. This system acts as an integrative metabolic sensor generating output signals to control energy intake and expenditure in a coordinated fashion (see subsequent chapter on central regulation of energy homeostasis). While this system is remarkably powerful in defending the lower limits of adiposity, it is apparently very weak in curbing appetite in a world of affluence. Alongside the above-mentioned homeostatic neural system operates another neural non-homeostatic, “hedonic” system that processes appetite, sensory inputs, and rewarding aspects of food intake, ultimately resulting in increased energy intake in genetically predisposed individuals. Food palatability may have an independent effect and/or interact with a number of neurotransmitter systems (including dopamine (12), serotonin (13), and endorphins (12,14,15)) that contribute to appetite, reward, and mood regulation. Although it is not well understood how the reward value of pleasurable taste and flavor guides ingestive behavior, psychological components that translate reward into learning, liking, and wanting more food play a very important role in the pathogenesis of obesity and have been outlined in recent reports (16). A further question is whether these systems operate independently of each other or whether they may interact. Recent finding suggest a role for nucleus accumbens– hypothalamic pathways in the interaction between the “cognitive” and “emotional” brain and the “metabolic” brain and thus between non-homeostatic and homeostatic factors that control food intake (17–21); however, more studies are clearly needed to elucidate these mechanisms.


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3.1. Orosensory Properties of Food The orosensory properties of food, mainly mediated by palatability, play a significant role in regulating eating. On a moment-to-moment basis, eating is controlled predominantly by the orosensory effects of food such as taste, flavor, aroma, and texture of food that provide positive feedback, and the postingestive effects that provide negative feedback. The effects of entry of palatable food in the mouth are stimulatory, while the entry of food into the stomach is inhibitory (22). Thus, heightened responsiveness to hedonic factors, including increased palatability, is often cited as a major factor in the development of obesity, but more needs to be learned in this field and this area is currently the focus of intensive research efforts (23).

3.2. Emotional Eating Both appetite and food preferences are altered across a range of mood states; preference for “junk food” and increased caloric intake is enhanced during negative mood states whereas preference for healthier foods is increased during positive mood states (24). Numerous associations between mood states and emotional eating have been reported (25), and stress-associated eating (i.e., emotional eating) is more common in those who are overweight or obese. Various psychological theories of emotional eating have been proposed (26,27), most of which conclude that emotional eating fails to produce any lasting benefit to psychological and mood states. In summary, eating behavior links the internal world of molecules and physiological processes with the external world of physical and cultural systems. The extent to which human eating patterns are a function of physiological or environmental pressure is not always clear. Understanding the pathways responsible for the neural control of feeding and how the integration of diverse signaling systems could be translated into the expression of behavior and the accompanying subjective feelings is deemed to be important for the development of behavioral strategies and pharmacological therapies against obesity.

4. NUTRIENTS Development of obesity and type 2 diabetes could ensue from alteration in the balance in the nutrient-activated mechanisms/nutrient-sensing pathways (28). It has been proposed that circulating factors, e.g., lipids, glucose, or protein products, that are generated in proportion to body fat stores and/or nutritional status act as signals to the brain, eliciting changes in energy intake and expenditure (29). A prolonged period of excessive food intake has been proposed to lead to weight gain and insulin resistance by activating nutrient-sensing pathways which process the signal for the availability of nutrients at central sites (hypothalamus) as well as directly in peripheral tissues (muscle and fat). All these pathways may either act independently or converge to decrease expression of proliferator-activated receptor coactivator 1 (PGC-1) α and β, key coactivators of PPAR α, γ, and δ, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and reduced energy expenditure, all of which enhance the risk for obesity and insulin resistance (30). We will further discuss the role of fatty acid metabolism in regulation of energy homeostasis, since very recent modalities for treating obesity are based on this metabolic pathway. We will then review the role of dietary fat and dietary carbohydrates in regulating

Chapter 3 / Environmental Inputs, Intake of Nutrients, and Endogenous Molecules


body weight, since diet, including low fat or low carbohydrate diets, still remain the most important therapeutic modality for weight loss.

4.1. The Role of Fatty Acid Metabolism in Regulation of Energy Homeostasis A potential role in the regulation of energy balance for fatty acid metabolism acting in the brain or in the periphery has been considered only recently. Several studies indicate that inhibition of FAS, the enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of long-chain fatty acids, using either cerulenin, a natural FAS inhibitor, or synthetic FAS inhibitors, reduces food intake and causes profound and reversible weight loss (31–38). Through central, peripheral, or combined central and peripheral mechanisms, these compounds increase energy consumption to augment weight loss (39). Centrally, these compounds reduce the expression of orexigenic peptides (40). In vitro and in vivo studies indicate that, at least in part, C75’s effect is mediated by modulation of adenosine-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a member of an energy-sensing kinase family (41,42). These compounds, with chronic treatment, also alter gene expression peripherally to favor a state of enhanced energy consumption (36,37). While the question of the physiological role of fatty acid metabolism remains to be fully elucidated, these effects raise the possibility that pharmacological alterations targeting molecules important in fatty acid synthesis/degradation may prove to be useful targets for obesity therapeutics.

4.2. The Role of Dietary Fat in the Regulation of Energy Homeostasis Dietary fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient in the diet (43). Short-term feeding studies have indicated that dietary fat might be used more efficiently than carbohydrates and thus it accumulates as body fat (44). When these short-term feeding studies are extended to 4 days, however, no difference in stored energy is observed (44,45). It has thus been suggested that carbohydrate intake, unlike fat intake, is regulated (46). The rationale underlying the promotion of low-fat diets is largely based on the belief that dietary fat is positively associated with body fat through the high energy density of fat and enhanced palatability of high-fat foods (43). However, traditional recommendations of fat restriction have been shown to have a negligible effect on long-term weight loss (43) whereas low-fat diets may also not offer any benefit in terms of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (47). Thus, further studies are needed to clarify the role of dietary fat in regulation of energy homeostasis.

4.3. The Role of Dietary Carbohydrates in Regulation of Energy Homeostasis Recent studies indicate that low-carbohydrate diets might be more effective for shortterm weight loss than low-fat diets, although this has not been verified by longer-term studies (48). Weight loss while following a low-carbohydrate diet is thought to result from a combination of factors: the satiating effect of protein (49), increased energy expenditure (50,51), appetite suppression from ketosis, as well as restriction of food choice (52–60). More research is needed to fully define the exact role of low carbohydrate diet in the longterm regulation of body weight, and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.


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5. HORMONES Hormonal systems serve as peripheral signals to CNS to provide information regarding energy storage and metabolic state. These hormones deriving mainly from the adipose tissue, the gastrointestinal tract, and the pancreas contribute to the homeostatic control system for the regulation of food intake and energy balance.

5.1. Adipose Tissue – Adipokines Adipocytes are active endocrine cells that secrete numerous proteins and bioactive peptides known as adipokines, which act at both the local (paracrine/autocrine) and systemic (endocrine) level. The adipose tissue is therefore considered today as a true endocrine organ (see Table 1 and Fig. 1) (61). The most intensively studied and curTable 1 The Adipose Tissue as an Endocrine Organ: Molecules Secreted by Adipose Tissue Category



Leptin, adiponectin, resistin, estrogens, angiotensinogen, retinol binding protein 4, visfatin, apelin Cytokines IL-6, TNF-α Complement factors Adipsin (complement factor D), complement C3, complement factor B, ASP Extracellular matrix proteins Type I, II, IV, VI collagen, fibronectin, osteonectin, laminin, entactin, matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 9 Other immune-related proteins MCP-1 Proteins of the RAS Renin, AGT, AT1, AT2, ACE Acute phase response proteins α1-acid glycoprotein, haptoglobin Proteins involved in the fibrino- PAI-1, tissue factor lytic system Enzymes and transporters LPL, CETP Apolipoprotein E, Adipocyte fatty acid involved in Lipid metabolism binding protein, CD36. Enzymes and transporters Insulin receptor substrate 1,2, Phosphatidylinositol 3-kiinvolved in glucose metabolism nase, protein kinase B (Akt), GLUT4, protein kinase λ/ζ Enzymes involved in steroid Cytochome-P450-dependent aromatase, 17βHSD, metabolism 11βHSD1 Receptors of peptides and Insulin, glucagon, thyroid-stimulating hormone, growth glycoproteins hormone, angiotensin-II, gastrin/cholecystokinin B, adiponectin Receptors of cytokines IL-6, TNF-α, leptin Nuclear receptors PPARγ, glucocorticoid, estrogen, progesterone, androgen, thyroid, vitamin D, nuclear factor-kB Other Prostacyclin, FFAs Il-6 interleukin 6, TNF tumor necrosis factor, MCP-1 monocyte chemoatractant protein 1, ASP acylation stimulating protein, 11bHSD-1 11b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1, 17bHSD 17b-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, LPL lipoprotein lipase, CETP cholesterol ester transfer protein, AGT angiotensinogen, AT1 and 2 angiotensin receptor type 1 and 2, ACE angiotensin-converting enzyme, PAI-1 plasminogen activator inhibitor, FFAs free fatty acids, PPARγ peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma

Chapter 3 / Environmental Inputs, Intake of Nutrients, and Endogenous Molecules Coagulation factors, PAI-1, TF

Cardiovascular diseases

Energy balance, Reproduction

Glucose Metabolism

Hypertension Adiponectin PAI-1 HB-EGF





Androgen Estrogen

Adipocytes TNF-a resistin FFA

Lipid Metabolism


LPL, CETP, Apo E Acylation stimulating factor

Unknown factors

IL-1b, IL-6, IL-8, IL-18, TGFb TNF-a Adipsin, Complement factors

Immune function

Fig. 1. Integration of environmental and peripheral signals by the central nervous system.

rently considered most important molecules secreted by the adipose tissue are leptin, adiponectin, and interleukin-6 (IL-6), which are discussed below. 5.1.1. Leptin Leptin, a 16-kDa protein, is the product of the ob (leptin) gene. Its discovery has changed the concept of white adipose tissue from that of an inert tissue to that of an active endocrine organ. Leptin is expressed predominantly in adipocytes (62) but has also been found in the hypothalamus, pituitary, placenta, skeletal muscle, and the gastrointestinal tract (63). Leptin circulates in the blood stream in a free and a bound form, and mediates its metabolic effects by binding to and activating the long isoform of a specific receptor known as ObRb (64). Signaling pathways downstream of leptin include the JAK STAT pathway, MAP kinase, and PI3 kinase (65). Leptin levels decrease in response to caloric restriction (66) and they increase in response to overfeeding irrespective of adipose tissue mass. Leptin secretion is also increased by insulin, glucocorticoids, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and estrogens, and is decreased in response to starvation (67), β3-adrenergic activity (68), free fatty acids, growth hormone, androgens, and PPARγ agonists, as reviewed in detail elsewhere (69). The discovery of leptin not only led to the realization that leptin per se plays a pivotal role in the regulation of energy homeostasis but also opened the black box of energy homeostasis regulation. Leptin is thought to act as a lipostat: as the amount of fat stored in adipocytes rises, leptin is released into the blood and signals to the brain information on adequacy of energy stores. Recent studies in mice underline the important role of leptin in the development of hypothalamic circuits regulating energy homeostasis (70) since leptin may affect the synaptic plasticity of hypothalamic neurons (71) and may also act as a neurotrophic factor during hypothalamic development (72).


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Although the role of leptin appears to be of significance in both ends of the energy homeostasis spectrum, i.e., obesity and energy-deficient states (73), our work has demonstrated that in humans leptin’s role appears to be of much more important in states of energy deprivation (74–76). Our group has also recently shown that falling leptin levels below a certain threshold can result in several neuroendocrine changes and immune abnormalities that occur with starvation (75,77) whereas no alterations of these neuroendocrine axes and immune response occur when leptin fluctuates within the normal range (78). Importantly, extremely thin women with hypothalamic amenorrhea and/ or anorexia nervosa have low leptin levels (79,80), whereas exogenous leptin normalizes neuroendocrine and reproductive function in women with relative hypoleptinemia (76). The role of leptin in human obesity is intriguing. In rodents diet-induced obesity has been correlated with the development of leptin resistance (81,82). Mutations in ob gene (leptin gene), as well as the leptin receptor gene, result in morbid obesity and diabetes in rodents and humans (62,83–85); however, these cases are extremely rare. The majority of obese individuals are characterized by high levels of leptin (86), suggesting leptin insensitivity or resistance; in fact, leptin administration to obese subjects has only a moderate effect on body weight (87). Importantly, negative regulators of both leptin and insulin signal transduction, such as inhibitors of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, may provide opportunities for the treatment of both obesity and insulin resistance by improving these hormone resistance syndromes (69,88). Finally, the prospect that leptin administration in replacement doses might prove clinically useful to maintain weight loss and the resulting relative hypoleptinemia that has been achieved by more traditional means (89,90) is an exciting possibility. Further testing of this concept in humans is the focus of many research efforts. The complex role of leptin in regulation of energy homeostasis and neuroendocrine function is summarized in Figs. 2 and 3a and in Tables 2 and 3. 5.1.2. Adiponectin Adiponectin, a 247-amino-acid protein produced exclusively by adipocytes, circulates in trimers and higher order oligomers (91–94) (Figs. 3b and 4). Different adiponectin isoforms, bind and activate at least two adiponectin receptors, which in turn alter the phosphorylation state of 5¢-AMP kinase and possibly other downstream molecules (94,95). Adiponectin receptor 1 (AdipoR1), which is expressed ubiquitously, but most abundantly in skeletal muscle, has a high affinity for globular adiponectin and a very low affinity for full-length adiponectin, whereas adiponectin receptor 2 (AdipoR2), which is found predominantly in the liver, has an intermediate affinity for both forms (96). Adiponectin is currently considered to regulate not only insulin resistance but also possibly energy homeostasis (91). It decreases with increasing overall and central adiposity (92,97–99), and increases with long-term weight reduction (100). Adiponectin is increased after food restriction in rodents (101). Its levels are regulated in rodents by ageing and high fat diet (102), and in humans by certain genetic polymorphisms (103), Mediterranean diet (104), glycemic load (105), and exercise (106). Studies in rodents have revealed that peripheral adiponectin administration reduces body weight and visceral adiposity without affecting food intake (107,108), increases insulin sensitivity, and decreases lipid levels in rodents (109–111). These effects are proposed to occur mainly by regulating energy expenditure, increasing glucose uptake, free fatty

Chapter 3 / Environmental Inputs, Intake of Nutrients, and Endogenous Molecules


Food Intake Energy Expenditure Pituitary gland




+POMC α-MSH, etc –NPY, AgRP, etc –






+ Immune Function

+ Sympathetic tone

Thyroid Hormones



Estrogens Androgens

+ +/ – –

Adipose tissue

Fig. 2. Leptin’s role in energy homeostasis and neuroendocrine regulation. States of energy excess are associated with increased leptin levels but both neuroendocrine function and energy homeostasis are resistant to the effects of increased leptin. Energy deficiency results in decreasing leptin levels and reduced leptin receptor activation in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. This leads to activation of a complex neural circuitry comprising orexigenic and anorexigenic signals. The main anorexigenic peptides are proopiomelanocortin and cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript; these are stimulated by leptin. The main orexigenic peptides downstream of leptin are neuropeptide Y and agouti-related protein; both potently stimulate food intake and reduce energy expenditure, thereby promoting weight gain in response to reducing leptin levels. In the figure the response to anorexigenic stimuli (activated in states of energy excess) is shown. “+” indicates stimulatory effects; “−” inhibitory effects. In states of energy deficiency the exact reverse pathways are activated.

acid oxidation, and oxygen consumption in the periphery (95,108,109). This effect on energy expenditure appears to be mediated by the hypothalamic melanocortin system (111). Adiponectin knockout mice have severe diet-induced insulin resistance (112). Importantly, accumulating evidence indicates that the primary role for adiponectin is to regulate insulin sensitivity (96,110,113–115). Circulating adiponectin levels correlate negatively with insulin resistance (98), and low adiponectin levels predict increased risk for developing insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and may represent a link between obesity and certain malignancies (116). On the other hand, adiponectin levels are higher in states of improved insulin sensitivity, such as after weight reduction or treatment with insulin-sensitizing drugs, e.g. thiazolidinediones (94). In addition to its insulin-sensitizing effects, adiponectin can decrease lipid levels (111) and has potent anti-inflammatory (117) and atheroprotective effects (118–120). Although metabolic pathways that are involved in regulation of food intake, gluconeogenesis, and lipogenesis (121) mediate some of the actions of adiponectin,


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Table 2 Actions of Leptin That Can Regulate Energy Homeostasis and Metabolism by Organ and System Action of leptin Energy intake

Energy expenditure

Autonomic nervous system axis

Peripheral tissues

Type of action of leptin Binding to and activation of leptin receptors found in hypothalamic nuclei (mainly, but not exclusively, in arcuate and paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus) and brainstem, triggers circuits inhibiting appetite (mainly through upregulation of α-MSH (POMC)) and inhibits circuits stimulating appetite (mainly by suppressing neuropeptide Y and agouti-related peptide (AgRP) expression in hypothalamic nuclei) (300). Experimental evidence points to both acute and chronic effects of leptin to increase energy expenditure, both via activation of BAT and increases in SNS firing per se (301,302). Acute effects of leptin include increased catecholamine turnover in BAT (301), increased SNS firing in numerous thermogenic tissues (302), and lipolysis (303). The acute effects of leptin may be important for body weight regulation because leptin may prevent the decrease in energy expenditure that normally accompanies decreased food intake in mice (304) and humans (89). Leptin administration has not been shown to alter SNS activity in healthy humans in the short term (305) but may alter SNS activity in long-term weight-loss-induced hypoleptinemia in humans (89). In any case, leptin’s effect on energy expenditure in both weight-loss-induced and congenital hypoleptinemia appears to be relatively small (85). Activation of leptin receptors in the ventromedial hypothalamus and arcuate nucleus results in modulation of autonomic nervous system activity. Acute leptin injections (i.v., intracerebroventricular – ICV, or intrahypothalamic into the VMH) increase sympathetic nerve activity in mice (306–308). Through activation of sympathetic nerves, leptin stimulates free fatty acid oxidation and thermogenesis in brown adipose tissue in rodents (309). No similar effects have been demonstrated to date in humans (305). Leptin increases glucose uptake in several tissues, including muscle and brown adipose tissue, and thus seems to play a role in modulating peripheral insulin sensitivity (310). The latter is likely to also involve activation of central melanocortin neurons but more research is needed for underlying mechanisms to be fully elucidated. Leptin administration has been shown to improve insulin resistance in humans with congenital (311) or relative acquired leptin deficiency (310). Other important actions of leptin include regulation of immune function, hematopoiesis in mice (312) and humans (313,314), angiogenesis (73) and finally bone metabolism (73).

BAT brown adipose tissue, MSH a-melanocyte-stimulating hormone, POMC proopiomelanocortin, SNS sympathetic nervous system

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Table 3 The Role of Leptin in Energy Homeostasis The role of leptin in states of energy excess • Children with leptin deficiency due to a leptin or leptin receptor (85) gene mutation are normal at birth but develop morbid obesity in early childhood, which is responsive to leptin treatment (315–317). Although monogenic obesity syndromes due to mutations in the leptin or leptin receptor genes remain an uncommon cause of obesity, their existence underlines the importance of the leptin system in the control of energy homeostasis in humans. • Most obese humans and almost all mouse models of obesity (except ob/ob) have elevated levels of leptin in serum (318). Administration of leptin to diet-induced obese mice, a model of human obesity, resulted in only minimal weight loss (304), demonstrating that these hyperleptinemic mice are leptin-resistant, probably because of receptor or postreceptor defects (318). • Common human obesity is a leptin-resistant state with high circulating levels of leptin in obese subjects and relative tolerance or deficiency in the actions of leptin (86,317,318). • Although defective leptin transport through the blood–brain barrier to the hypothalamus, induction of leptin signaling inhibitors, or intracellular signaling defects in leptinresponsive hypothalamic neurons have been designated as potential defects accountable for leptin resistance (319–321), the exact mechanism of leptin tolerance or resistance to its actions remains to be elucidated in humans. • In view of the fact that leptin treatment depletes body fat specifically (304) the notion of leptin tolerance or resistance to its actions was supported by clinical trials in which only modest weight loss occurred in response to recombinant leptin (r-metHuLeptin) administration (87). • Although rare patients with partial leptin deficiency may respond to exogenous leptin treatment (322), larger, prospective, double-blinded and placebo-controlled clinical trials in obese patients have shown only modest, dose-dependent weight loss in obese patients, along with a high degree of variability in response (87). • A possible role for falling leptin levels in the plateau phenomenon and the return to baseline body weight in response to weight loss has been raised in a recent small and uncontrolled study where leptin administration to maintain levels equal to those prior to weight loss reversed changes observed with weight loss (89). The role of leptin in states of energy deficiency • Accumulating evidence suggests that leptin is physiologically more important as a signal of energy deficiency than as a signal of energy excess. • In contrast to the observation that leptin levels increase gradually over time as fat mass increases, leptin levels are very sensitive to acute energy deprivation (77) and fall rapidly in response to complete fasting, before and/or out of proportion to changes in fat mass (77,323,324). • Starvation also elicits physiological adaptations of several neuroendocrine axes that can be considered protective, from a teleological point of view, since they may divert energy away from processes that are not essential for immediate survival during acute starvation. We have shown that several neuroendocrine changes that occur with starvation are the result of falling leptin levels in mice (67) and in humans (67,77). • Exogenous leptin administration to normalize falling leptin levels in response to starvation restores neuroendocrine function in normal men (77), but has only minimal effect when leptin fluctuates within the normal range (75). • Extremely thin women with hypothalamic amenorrhea and/or anorexia nervosa have low leptin levels (79,80,325,326). Leptin treatment of strenuously exercising women normalizes neuroendocrine and reproductive functions, as well as bone formation markers in women with relative hypoleptinemia (76).

52 a

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Fig. 3. Tertiary structure of leptin (a) and adiponectin (b).


Non-homologous Region

Collagen-like Domain



Globular Domain




HMW MMW (Hexamer) LMW (Trimer)

Fig. 4. (a) Primary structure of adiponectin. (b) Multimeric structure of adiponectin. (c) Multimers of adiponectin in an SDS gel (Western blot). HMW high molecular weight, MMW middle molecular weight, LMW low molecular weight adiponectin.

the mechanism by which this adipokine improves insulin resistance, glucose metabolism, and attenuation of weight gain remains to be fully elucidated. Further studies are needed to fully elucidate the role of adiponectin in regulation of energy homeostasis.

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5.1.3. Interleukin-6 and Interleukin-1 IL-6 is a multifunctional immune-modulating cytokine that circulates at high levels in the blood stream. It has been suggested to have important functions in glucose and lipid metabolism. IL-6 is secreted from adipose tissue into the circulation, and its expression is positively correlated with BMI and total fat tissue mass. IL-6-knockout mice develop obesity, which can partly be reversed by IL-6 replacement, suggesting a role for IL-6 in the longterm regulation of adipose tissue mass (122). Furthermore, central administration of a low dose of IL-6 decreases feeding and increases energy expenditure in rats, suggesting a central site of action for IL-6 (122). Importantly, obesity can be associated with relative deficiency of IL-6 centrally, since IL-6 levels in the CNS correlate inversely with subcutaneous and total body fat in overweight and obese humans (123). Serum levels and tissue expression of IL-6 decrease in response to diet-induced weight loss and increase with increasing adiposity (124). Increased production of IL-6 by the adipose tissue, especially visceral adipose tissue (125), of obese subjects may represent a compensatory mechanism attempting to limit obesity. Plasma concentrations of IL-6 can predict the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (61) since increased IL-6 levels result in a proinflammatory state, as well as insulin signaling defects and thus insulin resistance (125,126). Other interleukins, including IL-18 and IL-1, are also involved in body-weight homeostasis. IL-1 type I receptor knockout mice display an obese and insulin-resistant phenotype. This obese phenotype is characterised by a decrease in leptin sensitivity, fat utilization, and locomotor activity (127). The emerging role of interleukins in energy homeostasis and insulin resistance has been recently reviewed extensively elsewhere. 5.1.4. Resistin Resistin, a recently identified 114-amino-acid protein, is almost exclusively expressed in white-adipose tissue. Its concentrations have been reported to be higher in insulinresistant states as well as in visceral vs. subcutaneous adipose tissue (128). Circulating resistin is increased in obese rodents (128) and humans (129) and falls after weight loss in humans (130). Whether resistin influences obesity or insulin resistance either directly or by altering glucose and insulin levels and/or whether resistin may play a direct or indirect role in inflammation associated with obesity (131) warrants further investigation. Studies have shown contradictory results (128,132–139). Further studies are clearly needed to elucidate the role of resistin in regulation of energy homeostasis (140). 5.1.5. Apelin Apelin, a hormone with considerable sequence similarity with the angiotensin receptor type 1 (AT-1) gene, was discovered many years ago (141) but its production in adipose tissue and its potential modulating effect on obesity were recognized only very recently (142). Apelin, similar to leptin and insulin, is an adipocyte-generated signal circulating in proportion to body fat stores that may be acting to reduce food intake. In addition, similar to leptin, upregulation of apelin gene expression has been observed in certain mouse models of obesity while insulin regulates apelin expression in adipose tissue (142,143). Thus except for the previously described beneficial effects of apelin on cardiovascular physiology and insulin sensitivity (143), apelin may also play a protective role in obesityassociated disease states. However, more experimental evidence on the proposed roles of apelin is needed since available data remain controversial (142,144–146).


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5.1.6. Visfatin Pre-B-cell colony-enhancing factor, a growth factor for early B lymphocytes previously known to be synthesized in bone marrow, liver, and skeletal muscle, was recently found to be highly expressed in human visceral fat (147,148) and was referred to as “visfatin” since plasma visfatin concentration was found to correlate strongly with the amount of visceral fat (147). Plasma visfatin levels were found to be almost twofold higher in mice made obese by a high-fat diet in comparison to lean animals (147). In humans, plasma visfatin has also been reported to correlate significantly with visfatin mRNA level in visceral adipose tissue, percent body fat, and body mass index (148). Experimental data also suggest that endogenous visfatin is involved in the regulation of glucose homeostasis (147) and plasma visfatin levels are also higher in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus than in normoglycemic controls (149,150), although this has not been confirmed by all studies (151). Future studies are needed to clearly establish the exact role of visfatin in the development of obesity and diabetes. 5.1.7. Other Hormones Produced by Adipose Tissue Adipocytes produce other cytokines also, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (152) and proteins such as macrophages and monocyte chemoatractant protein 1, plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, and acylation stimulating protein (ASP), all of which have also been studied in the context of regulation of obesity, metabolism, and the insulin resistance syndrome (61). These and other adipocyte-secreted molecules (see Table 1) are the focus of intensive research efforts and their study is expected to contribute significantly to our understanding of the mechanisms regulating nutrition, metabolism, and energy homeostasis.

5.2. Pancreas/Pancreatic Hormones 5.2.1. Insulin Insulin, a 51-amino-acid hormone, appears to be one of the most important hormones regulating energy homeostasis. It is secreted from pancreatic beta cells and acts by binding to and activating a glycoprotein insulin receptor expressed on the plasma membrane of almost all cells. Subsequent tyrosine phosphorylation of the insulin receptor and initiation of intracellular signaling lead to regulation of key cellular activities, including gene expression, glucose uptake and oxidation, and synthesis of glycogen, triglycerides, and protein (153). Key areas responsible for controlling food intake, such as the arcuate nucleus in the hypothalamus, express insulin binding sites (154), and intracerebroventricular infusion of insulin dramatically decreases food intake and body weight in animals (155). In contrast, neuron-specific insulin receptor knockout mice demonstrate increased food intake, body weight, and adiposity, suggesting that insulin, similar to leptin, plays a key role in regulating energy balance (156,157). Animal models of diet-induced obesity and leptin resistance are also characterized by insulin resistance and reduced insulin transport into the brain and thus weight gain and increased food intake may be due to decreased central insulin levels in addition to defective leptin transport and leptin resistance (158). Although both the melanocortin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) systems are important downstream mediators of insulin’s actions on food intake and body weight,

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the pathways mediating insulin’s effects on food intake remain to be fully elucidated (159–161). In humans, insulin, similar to leptin, circulates in levels proportional to the degree of adiposity (162) which may serve to overcome impaired insulin-mediated intracellular signaling or to increase insulin levels centrally (153). Negative regulators of both leptin and insulin signal transduction, such as inhibitors of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, may provide opportunities for the treatment of both obesity and insulin resistance (88). Several compounds are currently in preclinical development by several pharmaceutical companies and are anticipated with great interest as potential new treatment options for obesity and diabetes. 5.2.2. Pancreatic Polypeptide Pancreatic polypeptide (PP) is primarily produced by cells of the islets of Langerhans (163). It may modulate expression of other gut hormones such as ghrelin (164) and/or regulate other hypothalamic neuropeptides such as NPY and orexin (164) and convey anorectic signals via brain stem pathways (165). Thus even though PP could be unable to cross the blood–brain barrier, it is possible that it could still regulate appetite. Although less data are available on the interaction between PP and other adipokines such as leptin, it has been shown that PP administration in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice decreases body weight (164). We did not find any leptin-induced alterations in PP levels in a recent interventional study in humans (166). Transgenic mice overexpressing PP are leaner than controls (167), and chronic peripheral administration of PP to mice reduces body weight (168). The actions of PP on food intake seem to depend on the route of administration. In obese rodents, peripheral PP administration decreases food intake, reduces energy expenditure and body weight, and improves insulin resistance and dyslipidemia (164,169). In humans, PP may reduce food intake in normal-weight human volunteers (170) and in patients with Prader–Willi syndrome (171). In contrast to the peripheral actions of PP, central administration of PP into the third ventricle increases food intake (172) but the mechanisms involved remain to be fully elucidated. Plasma PP concentrations have been inversely associated with adiposity and subjects with anorexia have elevated levels of this peptide (173,174), while reduced levels of plasma PP (175,176) have been linked to hyperphagia and obesity in obese subjects (177,178). However, other studies show no difference in plasma PP concentrations in response to weight loss in obese subjects (179), or between lean and obese subjects (180), with the exception of Prader–Willi syndrome. Although observational studies of PP levels in humans are conflicting (176,181), intravenous infusion of PP in normal-weight subjects has been shown to reduce 24-h energy intake (170). Longitudinal prospective evaluation of Pima Indians over 5 years indicate that PP’s role in regulating energy balance may be complex, since higher fasting PP levels were associated with greater risk of weight gain, but higher postprandial PP levels were associated with decreased risk of weight gain (182). Thus, the efficacy of PP infusion in obesity remains to be further studied. 5.2 3. Amylin Amylin, produced by the beta cells of the pancreas, is secreted along with insulin in response to food ingestion. Its best known functions are to reduce food intake and gastric


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emptying, and to inhibit pancreatic glucagon secretion and pancreatic and gastric enzyme secretion (183). Importantly, amylin is deficient in patients with type 1 diabetes, who are also deficient in insulin (183). In rats, amylin decreases food intake, body weight, and fat mass, while inhibition of amylin signaling has the opposite effect (184,185). Finally, there is evidence that amylin functions as an adiposity signal controlling body weight (183,186), but the magnitude of its effects appears to be relatively small. Amylin may interact with other signals controlling energy homeostasis at the level of the hypothalamus and probably elsewhere, enhances the action of other satiety signals at the level of the hindbrain, and can lead to reduction of meal size (185,187,188). In rats, amylin has a synergistic effect with leptin to induce weight loss (189), specifically decreasing fat mass (190), and a recent clinical trial in humans involving administration of amylin and leptin suggests a similar synergy ( Using an interventional study design in healthy normal-weight humans, we have recently demonstrated that amylin levels are decreased during short-term complete fasting, but this effect is not mediated by leptin; we have also shown that amylin levels are not altered by chronic energy deficit or normalizing leptin levels for up to 3 months (166). Thus, any potential synergistic effect of amylin and leptin to mediate weight loss is likely not due to alterations of amylin levels by leptin, but may be related to central mechanisms and/or synergies in enhancing intracellular signaling. The synthetic amylin analog pramlintide is marketed for diabetes treatment, but its administration for at least 16 weeks in humans also causes mild progressive weight loss (191,192) and can induce weight loss in individuals with (193) and without diabetes (194). More studies are needed to fully quantitate amylin’s weight reducing capacity, its potential synergistic effects with other peptides, and to carefully study potential side effects.

5.3. Gastrointestinal Tract Hormones The gastrointestinal tract is also an endocrine organ and an important source of peptide hormones which regulate energy balance. Gastrointestinal hormones have been proposed to contribute to short-term regulation of energy homeostasis in contrast to adipose-tissue-secreted or pancreas-derived hormones which have been proposed to provide long-term signals that regulate energy homeostasis,. Therefore, gut hormone signaling systems represent important pharmaceutical targets for potential antiobesity therapies that would have a short acting role. Of the several gastrointestinal-tract-generated molecules we will focus herein on those considered to be the most important, such as ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY), glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and oxyntomodulin, cholecystokinin (CCK), and bombesin-like peptides. 5.3.1. Ghrelin Ghrelin, a 28-amino-acid peptide, is mainly expressed in enterochromaffin cells of the stomach fundus (195) but may also be expressed centrally in the hypothalamus (196). Its action is thought to be mediated via the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHS-R) type 1a expressed in numerous tissues, including hypothalamus, pituitary, liver, and the gastrointestinal tract (195). Plasma ghrelin levels are regulated both by food intake and by endogenous diurnal rhythms (197). In normal humans, ghrelin levels rise before meals (197) and in response to diet-induced weight loss (198) whereas they fall acutely after feeding. The rise in preprandial ghrelin correlates with hunger scores in human subjects

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eating spontaneously (199). Interestingly, the levels of ghrelin are correlated with adiposity in humans, with an inverse relationship between plasma ghrelin levels and BMI (200). Obese human subjects show reduced levels of plasma ghrelin, which rise to normal after diet-induced weight loss (198). Moreover, in obese individuals the postprandial regulation of ghrelin seems to be altered, which may be related to continuous food intake and/ or obesity (201). Obese patients have also decreased ghrelin levels after gastric bypass surgery, which may contribute to maintaining decreased weight after surgery (198). Furthermore, recent data in humans have demonstrated an inverse correlation between ghrelin and leptin, but we have shown no direct regulation of ghrelin by leptin administration over the short term (period of a few hours to a few days) (202). Peripheral and central administration of ghrelin to rodents induces positive energy balance by decreasing feeding, as well as fat mass, and reduces fat utilization (203,204). Ghrelin is unique because it is the only known gut hormone stimulating food intake. Intravenous administration of ghrelin to healthy volunteers increases food intake (205). A potentially important application of ghrelin is that ghrelin antagonists could possibly be developed as antiobesity drugs. It has been shown that GHS-R knockout mice are resistant to diet-induced obesity (206,207) and favor fat as a metabolic substrate when on a high-fat diet (208). In another study, ghrelin and GHS-R knockout mice were found not to have profoundly altered food intake or body weight on a normal diet (209,210). GHS-R antagonists may therefore have beneficial effects in obese humans on high-fat diet, but more experiments are needed to establish this hypothesis. Knockout models have also provided further evidence for the role of ghrelin in glucose homeostasis. Diabetic ghrelin knockout mice show less dramatic hyperphagia than do controls (211), and ablating ghrelin attenuates diabetes in the ob/ob mouse models of obesity (212). Moreover, ghrelin administration has been demonstrated to increase food intake in certain patient groups such as in cancer (213) and dialysis patients (214) and thus reduced ghrelin levels may be responsible in part for the loss of appetite and weight often observed in these patients (213,214). Whether ghrelin plays an important role in regulating energy homeostasis in humans remains to be seen through future interventional studies involving new ghrelin analogs and antagonists currently in development by pharmaceutical companies. 5.3.2. Peptide YY PYY, a 36-amino-acid peptide (215), is secreted from the L cells of the small and large bowel (216). There are two main forms of PYY in the circulation: PYY1–36 and PYY3– 36 (217). PYY levels decrease with fasting and increase rapidly after a meal (218). PYY inhibits food intake through a gut–hypothalamic pathway that involves inhibition of NPY via Y2 receptors in the arcuate nucleus and the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (219). Peripheral administration of PYY delays gastric emptying and gastric secretion, inhibits food intake, and reduces weight gain in animals and humans (220–225). However, centrally administered PYY increases food intake in rodents (226,227). In humans, endogenous levels of PYY may be lower in obese subjects, and PYY reduces appetite and food intake when administered to obese or normal-weight subjects, suggesting that a relative PYY deficiency may contribute to the development of obesity (228). We have shown in humans that PYY increases after meal ingestion and decreases after fasting in a manner consistent with a meal-related signal of energy homeostasis but circulating levels


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of this gut-secreted molecule are independent of regulation by leptin over the short term (229).We have also recently found that PYY levels are higher in obese patients after gastric bypass surgery, a fact that may contribute to the increased efficiency of this procedure in decreasing body weight (230). In a short phase Ic trial of 37 obese participants a PYY nasal spray yielded somewhat promising results causing 1.3 lb of weight loss in 6 days whereas an injectable PYY analog (AC-162352) has been tested in phase I studies, with limited success due to nausea (231). Ongoing clinical trials involving PYY administration are awaited with great anticipation to further elucidate the role of this peptide in the treatment of obesity in humans. 5.3.3. Incretins: Glucagon-Like Peptides (GLP-1,2) and Glucose-Dependent Insulinotropic Peptide Incretins such as glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and the glucagon-like peptides (mostly GLP-1 but also GLP-2) are intestinal hormones that are released in response to ingestion of nutrients, especially carbohydrate (232). They have a number of important biological effects, which include release of insulin, inhibition of postprandial glucagon release, maintenance of β-cell mass, delay of gastric emptying, and inhibition of feeding which result in negative energy balance (232). These properties allow them to be potentially suitable agents for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Exogenous GLP-1 (central or peripheral administration) has been found to reduce food and caloric intake (233,234), and to decrease weight gain (235), body weight, and adiposity in rodents, whereas immunoblockade of central GLP-1 with antibodies results in increased energy intake (236,237). Moreover, mice deficient in dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV), an inhibitor of GLP-1 degradation, are resistant to diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Regardless of the anorectic actions of GLP-1 reported in rodents, GLP-1 receptor knockout mice have normal feeding behavior (238,239). The anorectic effect of GLP-1 is also present in humans (240,241). Preprandial subcutaneous GLP-1 injections reduce caloric intake by 15% and result in 0.5 kg of weight loss over 5 days in obese individuals (242). Therefore, low circulating GLP-1 could likely contribute to the pathogenesis and maintenance of obesity, and GLP-1 replacement could restore satiety. The actions of both GLP-1 on feeding may be mediated via the GLP-1 receptor, which is expressed in the hypothalamus, brainstem, and periphery (243). Although GLP-1 is presumed to produce its anorectic effect by acting centrally, the exact mechanism of its action and its potential efficacy in humans need to be further studied (232). The role of GLP-2 has not been fully established; however, central administration reduces feeding, probably via GLP-1 receptor (244). No effect of GLP-2 on feeding has been reported in man (245). GIP, a peptide secreted by the duodenum upon absorption of fat or glucose, is a potent insulin secretagogue (246). It has been suggested that GIP may be implicated in a peripheral decrease of energy expenditure and fat oxidation and is oversecreted in the diet-induced mouse model of obesity. GIP receptor knockout mice are protected from obesity and insulin resistance (246), but the role of GIP in humans is currently thought to be less important than that of GLP-1. In clinical trials, incretin mimetics and GLP-1 agonists such as exenatide and liraglutide reduced fasting and postprandial glucose concentrations, with improvements in HbA1c

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and modest weight loss when added to existing metformin and/or sulfonylurea therapy in patients with type 2 diabetes (247–250). The modest weight loss caused by incretin mimetics underlines the important role of incretins in regulation of body weight and energy homeostasis. However, side effects, including nausea and vomiting, limit the development of stronger, more efficacious, incretins that could lead to new potential medications for treatment of obesity. Another important category of agents that target the incretin axis include DPP-IV inhibitors, which act by suppressing the degradation of a variety of bioactive peptides, including GLP-1, thereby extending their duration of action (251). Sitagliptin was recently approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes whereas vildagliptin is furthest along in late-stage clinical development among other DPP-IV inhibitors (251,252). Significant improvement of glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes has been observed with sitagliptin (253–256) and vildagliptin (257–259) treatment in several clinical trials. Long-term clinical studies are needed to determine the benefits of targeting the incretin axis (alone or in combination with other medications) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. 5.3.4. Oxyntomodulin Oxyntomodulin (OXM) is released from the small intestine in proportion to caloric intake (260). Both central and peripheral OXM administration acutely reduces food intake in rodents (261,262), and repeated administration reduces body weight gain and adiposity (262) possibly through an effect on the thyroid axis and via increased energy expenditure (262). Studies in humans (263) have shown that OXM reduces hunger and food intake (263,264) and may also result in increased energy expenditure (265). Longterm trials are needed to establish OXM as an antiobesity drug and whether it may be the first therapy to suppress appetite and to concurrently increase spontaneous activity. 5.3.5. Cholecystokinin CCK is a peptide that is released by the duodenum and jejunum in response to nutrient ingestion (protein and fatty acid) (266), and by acting via specific receptors, it slows gastric emptying and stimulates gastric distension, intestinal motility, gall bladder contraction, and pancreatic enzyme secretion (267,268). Antagonists of these receptors increase food and energy intake in rodents (269) and in human subjects (270). Although peripheral administration of CCK reduces food intake acutely in animals and humans (267), it may also lead to a compensatory increase in daily meal number and thus results in little weight loss. Thus, despite its anorectic actions, repeated administration of CCK does not influence body weight, and CCK is mostly involved in the short-term control of food intake (271). Chronic administration of CCK antagonists or anti-CCK antibodies increases weight gain in rodents, but without a significant change in food intake (272,273). The long-term effect of CCK on body weight may be the result of interaction with other signals of adiposity such as leptin, which enhances the satiating effect of CCK (274). The evidence for a role of CCK in long-term body weight regulation, and hence as a potential therapy for obesity, remains to be fully elucidated. 5.3.6. Bombesin-like Peptides Bombesin and bombesin-like peptides such as gastrin-releasing peptide and neuromedin B are released from the gastrointestinal tract in response to food intake. These peptides result in decreased food intake (275) and duration of feeding (276,277) and act


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through specific G-protein-coupled receptors (278) which are widely expressed both in the gastrointestinal tract and centrally (275,279) and signal to the brain information on energy intake. Peripheral or central injections of bombesin reduce food intake (280,281) independently of CCK in rodents (282). Bombesin receptor 3 (BRS-3) knockout mice display hyperphagia, mild obesity, diabetes, and hypertension (283) New compounds targeting this pathway are currently under preclinical development and are expected to soon shed light on the role of these molecules in humans. 5.3.7. Apo A-IV Apolipoprotein (apo) A-IV is a circulating glycoprotein secreted by the small intestine in humans. It has been considered a key peptide involved in the processing of ingested fat by the body (284). One site of action of the anorexic effect of apo A-IV appears to be within the brain since apo A-IV is synthesized in the ventrobasal hypothalamus (285), a general area in which other important feeding-related neuropeptides are also produced, and hypothalamic apo A-IV mRNA levels fluctuate with metabolic state as well as with time of day (286–288). Apo A-IV is also present in the cerebrospinal fluid, and its cerebrospinal levels increase when fat is absorbed (289). Moreover, administration of exogenous apo A-IV in the third ventricle reduces food intake (290). Because both intestinal and hypothalamic apo A-IV are regulated by absorption of lipids, but not carbohydrates, this peptide may be an important link between short- and long-term regulation of body fat (286–288). A possible signaling role of apo A-IV in energy homeostasis is suggested by the fact that systemic administration of exogenous apo A-IV decreases dose dependently food intake of rats (286–289) and that administration of apo A-IV antiserum increases food intake and body weight (290). All of these findings suggest that apo A-IV likely interacts with other signals involved in the regulation of energy homeostasis, but more studies are clearly needed to fully elucidate its role. 5.3.8. Enterostatin Enterostatin is the aminoterminal pentapeptide of procolipase and is released from pancreatic procolipase by proteolytic activity in the small intestine after the ingestion of dietary fat (291). Enterostatin is expressed in both the gastrointestinal tract and the CNS since both procolipase and enterostatin have been localized to the gastric mucosa and to certain brain regions (amygdala, hypothalamus, cortex) (292). Enterostatin when administrated centrally or peripherally to overnight fasted rats induces satiation since it suppresses intake of a high-fat diet, but not a high-carbohydrate diet (293,294). Finally, a role for endogenously produced enterostatin in feeding behavior is suggested by its ability to increase intake of high-fat diets by the enterostatin antagonist β-casomorphin1–7 (295). Further studies are needed to fully elucidate the role of this peptide in regulation of food intake and energy homeostasis. 5.3.9. Obestatin It has recently been reported that obestatin, a new peptide derived from the ghrelin gene, inhibits food intake by acting through the orphan receptor GPR39 (296,297). Despite this evidence there are some discrepancies in relation to the anorectic effect of obestatin (298) as well as its binding to GPR39 (299). If the anorectic effect is confirmed, this finding could provide a new drug target for the treatment of obesity.

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6. CONCLUSION In summary, regulation of energy homeostasis is extremely complex. Signals from the environment and the periphery are integrated by the CNS to regulate both energy intake and energy expenditure. As the secrets of the systems responsible for the energy homeostasis regulation continue to be decoded, promising prospects emerge for the development of novel antiobesity medications which should produce more substantial weight loss than is currently achieved with nonsurgical interventions. This will hopefully provide in the not so distant future substantial benefits to the increasing percentage of the population striving to control their body weight.

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Central Integration of Environmental and Endogenous Signals Important in the Regulation of Food Intake and Energy Expenditure Iosif Kelesidis, Theodore Kelesidis, and Christos S. Mantzoros

KEY POINTS • The worsening global epidemic of obesity has necessitated intensification of research into the mechanisms of appetite regulation. • Obesity can be viewed as the result of a classic gene–environment interaction where the human genotype is susceptible to environmental influences that affect energy intake and energy expenditure. The obesity epidemic can also be viewed as a problem of energy balance. • Food intake and energy expenditure are processes dependent on information relayed to a central network of sensing and processing neurons through hard-wired neural, metabolic, and hormonal signals from the periphery. • Complex pathways that modulate energy balance involve mainly hormonal signals released by the gut and other organs in the periphery that convey information on energy status, as well as appetite centers in the hypothalamus and brain stem. • Our understanding of the neuronal pathways that initiate changes in ingestive behavior or energy expenditure as well as our knowledge of the detailed signaling modalities underlying central body weight regulation still remain largely unknown. • Careful clarification of how behavioral and environmental factors interact to produce energy balance (and in states of energy excess how the system fails to achieve energy balance, with the end result being weight gain) is required in order to understand the etiology of obesity. • Modification of a combination of these factors may be able to reverse the epidemic of obesity and help the population achieve energy balance and a healthy body weight. • The purpose of this chapter is to summarize our current understanding of the central pathways regulating energy homeostasis. These neuronal pathways in the central nervous system receive and integrate signals from the periphery that convey information about the status of energy fluxes and stores. Understanding these mechanisms will provide insights for the development of new treatment options for obesity. From: Nutrition and Health: Nutrition and Metabolism Edited by: C.S. Mantzoros, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1_4, © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009



Kelesidis, Kelesidis, Mantzoros

Key Words: Obesity, Energy homeostasis, Energy expenditure, Signals

1. CENTRAL REGULATION OF ENERGY HOMEOSTASIS Discovery of the fat hormone leptin as part of an “adipostatic” endocrine system of body weight regulation has elucidated our understanding of body weight homeostasis (1) and has increased our knowledge of how peripheral endocrine organs and the central nervous system (CNS) interact in the control of energy homeostasis. Peripherally generated signals are integrated in the brain in a complex manner, resulting in activation of both anorexigenic and orexigenic pathways to regulate energy balance. The molecular elucidation of this complex system has improved our understanding of energy homeostasis. Peripheral signals such as nutrients (mainly lipids and carbohydrates) participate in the regulation of energy homeostasis by activation of intracellular second messenger pathways through surface enzymes (2) and ion channels (3,4) expressed in hypothalamic neurons. In addition, the short-term regulation of feeding is accomplished by conduction of information from chemoreceptors (mainly CCK) or stretch receptors to brainstem through neural afferent signals from the periphery, conveyed mainly via the vagus nerve, which innervates densely the gastrointestinal tract (Fig. 1). All these peripheral signals are integrated in the CNS through complex neural structures, which are described below.

1.1. Structures in the CNS Mediating Energy Homeostasis The hypothalamus plays a central role in the integration of peripheral signals in the current energy homeostasis model (2). Within the hypothalamus, the arcuate nucleus (ARC) is a major site of peripheral signal integration, as it is considered to be the key sensor of peripheral energy input (reviewed in (3)). Peripheral signals act mainly on two distinct neuronal populations. One population coexpresses the orexigenic neuropeptides agouti-related peptide (AgRP) and neuropeptide Y (NPY); the other population releases cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript and pro-opiomelanocortin, both of which inhibit feeding (Fig. 1). Both of these populations project to the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) and other nuclei involved in energy regulation (4,5). In states of positive energy balance, neurochemical signaling inhibits orexigenic centers and activates anorexigenic centers, while during negative energy states the opposite occurs. Energy-modulating neuropeptides as well as receptors for peripheral hormones, including leptin and insulin, as well as several sensors of nutrient intake and expenditure have been identified in brain stem neurons (3). Therefore, the brain stem appears to also play an important role in the integration of signals of energy availability (6). Obviously, the energy homeostasis circuit is controlled at several levels and not only in the CNS.

1.2. Hypothalamic Structure and Neuronal Pathways Regulating Appetite Most individuals maintain stable body weight over long periods of time despite wide daily variations of food intake and energy expenditure (EE). For this to happen, food intake and EE must be constantly adjusted and precisely balanced over time. Currently, the emphasis in the regulation of body weight and endocrine function is placed on neuronal circuits, composed of specific neuropeptides, rather than specific hypothalamic nuclei that have been thought to play a major role in the past (see Fig. 1).

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Fig. 1. Integration of peripheral signals in the hypothalamus and the central nervous system. The interaction between the various components of this complex system is noted, as are the neuropeptides that are expressed in each part of this complex circuit. ARC arcuate nucleus, AVP vasopressin, AgRP agouti related protein, CART cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript, CCK cholecystokinin, CRH corticotropin releasing hormone, DMN dorsomedial nucleus, DRN dorsal reticular nucleus, GABA g-aminobutyric acid, GLP-1/2 glucagon-like peptide 1/2, IL-6 interleukin-6, LHA lateral hypothalamus, LPB lateral parabrachial nucleus, NA noradrenalin, NTS nucleus of the solitary tract, OXY oxytocin, PVN paraventricular nucleus, PP pancreatic polypeptide, POMC pro-opiomelanocortin, TNF-a tumor necrosis factor alpha, TRH thyrotropinreleasing hormone, VMN ventromedial nucleus. + indicates orexigenic effect; −, anorexigenic effect; ?, unknown effect.

1.2.1. The Arcuate Nucleus The arcuate nucleus (ARC), one of the hypothalamic nuclei, is thought to play a pivotal role in the integration of signals regulating appetite. This is because the immediate surroundings of the ARC are not being shielded by the blood–brain barrier and this allows unrestricted access to afferent inputs (8). Neuropeptide Y and pro-opiomelanocortin neurons in the hypothalamic ARC are prototypic metabolic sensors. Both use glucose as a signaling molecule, and both have receptors for peripheral hormones, including insulin and leptin (8). The pro-opiomelanocortin neurons produce a-melanocyte-stimulating hormone whose release and binding to melanocortin-3 and -4 receptors in the PVN and lateral hypothalamus reduces food intake and increases EE mainly through projections from these nuclei to autonomic and neuroendocrine


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effector systems (9). Firing of NPY neurons releases both NPY and AgRP; NPY (10) is an anabolic peptide that strongly stimulates ingestive behaviors and minimizes EE, whereas AgRP acts as a functional antagonist of catabolic melanocortin receptors. Under homeostatic conditions, leptin and insulin levels reflect the amount of adiposity in the body(7,11). In addition to input from insulin and leptin, the ARC also senses changes in energy balance conveyed by the gastric/gastrointestinal-system-secreted hormone ghrelin (12) and the intestinal hormone peptide YY 3–36 (PYY 3–36) (13). By activating its receptor on NPY/AgRP neurons, ghrelin stimulates food intake; currently ghrelin is the only known circulating hormone to exert an orexigenic effect (14). 1.2.2. Paraventricular Nucleus The other main hypothalamic areas identified as effectors of peripheral information are the paraventricular nucleus (PVN), the lateral hypothalamus perifornical area, and the ventromedial and dorsomedial nuclei (15,16). These structures are divided into two categories. The lateral area constitutes the orexigenic limb, whereas the ventromedial, dorsomedial, and paraventricular nuclei constitute the anorexigenic part of the hypothalamus. The PVN, located adjacent to the third ventricle, acts to integrate neuropeptide signals from numerous CNS regions, including the ARC and brain stem (17). The PVN plays a major role in integration of all signaling functions that regulate energy homeostasis (18,19). This brain area seems to house neurons that mainly promote negative energy balance and play an important role in energy homeostasis, at least in part, by conveying input from the ARC to other key brain areas (20). Certainly more research is needed to fully elucidate the role PVN plays in energy homeostasis. 1.2.3. Dorsomedial Nucleus/Hypothalamus The dorsomedial nucleus (DMN) plays a significant role in the modulation of energy intake. Destruction of the DMN results in hyperphagia and obesity, although less dramatic than in response to VMN lesioning. Injection of orexigenic peptides, NPY, galanin, and GABA, into the DMN increases food intake (21), Similar to all other nuclei important in energy regulation, the DMN has extensive connections with other hypothalamic nuclei. It receives projections from AgRP/NPY neurons from the ARC but also contains NPY-expressing cell bodies. Administration of melanocortin agonists in the DMN has been shown to reduce both local NPY expression and suckling-induced hyperphagia in rats most likely because of proximal localization of a-MSH immunoreactive fibers to these NPY-expressing cells (22). 1.2.4. Lateral Hypothalamic Area and Perifornical Area The lateral hypothalamic area and perifornical area (LHA/PFA) are other hypothalamic areas involved in energy homeostasis. The PFA seems to be one of the most sensitive areas for NPY-induced feeding, apparently more so than the PVN (15). The LHA/ PFA contains melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) expressing neurons (16), and among the key LHA neurons involved in body weight regulation are those that express either orexin (23) or MCH (24). Data from animal studies support an important role for MCH because targeted deletion of MCH (25) or its receptor (26) causes a weightreduced, lean, hypermetabolic phenotype whereas central administration (24) and/or transgenic overexpression of this peptide increases food intake (22,24). The LHA/PFA also contains neurons expressing prepro-orexin and releasing the peptide products orexin

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A and B (also called hypocretins 1 and 2) (3,23). Orexin neurons project widely through the CNS to several areas, including the PVN, ARC, nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (27), i.e., to areas associated with arousal and attention as well as feeding. The mechanisms by which the MCH and orexin neurons in the LHA integrate CNS and peripheral signals to influence energy homeostasis remain to be fully clarified (3). However, major targets are currently considered the endocrine and autonomic nervous system, the cranial nerve motor nuclei, and cortical structures. Finally, neurons in the LHA (mainly orexin-containing) may play an important role in narcolepsy (28) and arguably an important role, by extension, in sleep regulation. 1.2.5. Ventromedial Hypothalamus The ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) has been known for many years to play a role in energy homeostasis. The VMH receives NPY, AgRP, and a-MSH immunoreactive projections from neurons in the ARC, and in turn, VMH neurons project onto both hypothalamic nuclei (e.g., dorsomedial hypothalamus) and brain stem regions (e.g., NTS). Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophic factor that has recently been linked to weight loss (29), is highly expressed in the VMH, and its expression is regulated both by food deprivation and melanocortin agonists (29). Mice with reduced BDNF receptor expression or reduced BDNF signaling have increased food intake and body weight (29). Therefore, BDNF neurons in the VMH may act as an additional downstream pathway through which nutritional status and the melanocortin system modulate energy homeostasis. Finally, data from recent studies (30) strongly support the view that BDNF plays a role as an anorexigenic factor in the dorsal vagal complex. 1.2.6. Brainstem/Nucleus Tractus Solitarius The brain stem seems to play an important role in signal integration of energy availability (3). Caudal brainstem includes several sensors of nutrient intake and expenditure, as well as receptors of peripheral hormones, including leptin and insulin (3). Extensive reciprocal connections exist between the hypothalamus and brain stem, particularly the NTS. The NTS is in close anatomical proximity to the area postrema, a circumventricular organ with an incomplete blood–brain barrier (3). Like the ARC, the NTS is therefore in an ideal position to respond to peripheral circulating signals, but in addition, it also receives vagal afferents from the gastrointestinal tract and afferents from the glossopharyngeal nerves (31). In addition to glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) (see below), NPY neurons from the brain stem project forward to the PVN, and extracellular NPY levels within the NTS are modulated by feeding (32). Other important structures found in the NTS include NPY-binding sites (Y1 and Y5 receptors), melanocortin system (33), and MC4R (3).

1.3. Synaptic Plasticity in Energy Balance Regulation Recently, the scientific community realized that the system involving hypothalamic neuropeptide systems is far from being static. There is a rapid synaptic remodeling (34), and according to recent studies (34), changing metabolic states can cause alterations in neuronal interactions by changes of the wiring of synapses and hypothalamic metabolic circuits. In these studies, fasting resulted in a balance of stimulatory and inhibitory synapses on orexin and NPY neurons that favored increasing activity of these neurons. On the other hand, inhibitory interneurons of the same regions (neurons that would


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inhibit either orexin or NPY neuronal activity) exhibited a synaptic balance during fasting that would support neuronal inactivation, thereby further enhancing the activity level of orexin and NPY perikarya. These observations raise the notion that metabolic signals, leptin in particular, may have an acute effect on synaptic plasticity within the appetite centers. Recent data suggest that leptin-mediated plasticity in the ob/ob hypothalamus may underlie some of the hormone’s behavioral effects (34). Similarly, the effects of an orexigenic hormone, ghrelin, and anorexigenic hormone, estradiol, have also been studied. It appears that synaptic plasticity is not leptin-specific since rearrangement of synapses has also been observed in response to ghrelin and estradiol in a leptin-independent manner (34). These observations raised the intriguing possibility that altered synaptic plasticity could be an important way through which peripheral metabolic hormones may influence brain functions in the long term.

1.4. Central Neuropeptides Regulating Energy Balance The CNS structures responsible for regulating energy homeostasis mediate their effects through the release of specific neuropeptides which, although grouped into orexigenic and anorexigenic subcategories, act in a coordinated manner, either synergistically or antagonistically (summarized in Table 1). Several orexigenic neuropeptides have been identified, which are expressed centrally and integrate peripheral signals to reduce EE and/or increase energy intake, the most important being NPY, agouti-related protein (AgRP), MCH, orexin, and galanin (GAL). On the other hand, signals of a positive energy balance are integrated centrally via anorexigenc neuropeptides, including a-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (a-MSH), cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript, galanin-like peptide, the corticotrophin-releasing hormone family of peptides, serotonin, and dopamine. The above peptides are presented briefly in Table 1.

1.5. Other Systems 1.5.1. Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 The NTS contains NPY, melanocortin, and GLP-1 neuronal circuits. GLP-1 forms the major brain stem circuit known to regulate energy homeostasis. In the CNS, GLP-1 is synthesized exclusively in the caudal NTS, and these preproglucagon neurons also express leptin receptors. GLP1 immunoreactive fibers then project widely, but particularly to the PVN and DMN, with fewer projections to the ARC. GLP-1 receptor expression is also widespread, both within the hypothalamus (PVN, dorsomedial hypothalamus, and supraoptic nucleus) and in the brain stem. Central administration of GLP-1, either into the third or fourth ventricle, potently reduces fasting and NPY-induced food intake (35). These data have suggested a role of not only circulating but also endogenous hypothalamic GLP-1 in energy homeostasis. 1.5.2. Opioids The opioid system appears to play a significant role in energy homeostasis. Release of opioids, such as endorphins, during food intake could enhance the pleasure of eating. Opioids released in response to ingestion of sweet and other palatable foods can increase central opioidergic activity and exogenously administered opioids generally increase food intake (36). Microinjection of opioid agonists into the nucleus accumbens, an important part of the reward circuit, stimulates the preferential consumption of highly


Expression Area

Agouti-related protein Mediates its (AgRP) effects mainly by blocking a-MSH from binding to MC4R and MC3R in the brain (139)

Co-expressed with NPY in the arcuate nucleus (139,154,155)

Orexigenic neuropeptides Expressed throughout the Neuropeptide Y Six known NPY CNS, but especially in (NPY) (138) (139, receptors (main hypothalamic nuclei 140) are NPY1 and and the locus ceruleus NPY5 receptors) of the brainstem (141) Co-localized with agouti related protein (AgRP) in the arcuate nucleus


Factors that downregulate expression



NPY is the most potent orexigen known, A state of negative energy Positive energy and repeated third ventricle or PVN balance, associated balance (142) injection of NPY causes marked with increased leptin Ghrelin, increases the hyperphagia and obesity and insulin levels expression of NPY and Central administration of NPY increases (152) AgRP in the arcuate food intake, decreases energy PYY inhibits NPY nucleus (14) expenditure, decreases sympathetic expression in the Corticosterone (CORT) outflow to brown adipose tissue, and arcuate nucleus via (143–146) increases lipogenesis (139, 153) the Y2-receptor (13) Hypoglycemia NPY stimulates basal plasma insulin and (147–149) morning plasma cortisol (54), effects which are independent of increased food intake Rising leptin and Increased Ghrelin and Central administration of AgRP in rodents insulin levels CORT levels (10, 156, increases feeding and body weight 157) (10, 156, 157) (159,160) Declining carbohydrate AgRP also affects energy expenditure and stores and thermogenesis via the TRH system, such hypoglycaemia that exogenous AgRP in rats results in a AgRP and NPY decreased TSH and total T4 simulating potentiate each other’s the hypothyroid state present during effect on feeding fasting (161) behavior (158) Activation of ARC NPY/AgRP neurons potently stimulates feeding via a number of pathways: the orexigenic effect of NPY released in the PVN, AgRP

Factors that upregulate expression

Table 1 Centrally expressed neuropeptides important in energy homeostasis

Melanin Concentrating Hormone Receptor 1 (MCH1-R) and 2 (MCH2-R) (139,162)

Orexin A has high affinity for the orexin-1 receptor, which is highly

Orexins (also known as hypocretins) Orexin A Orexin B


Melaninconcentrating hormone (MCH)


Table 1 (continued)

Fasting Insulin(163) Declining fatty acid levels(164,165) Ghrelin and glucose do not influence its expression to a significant extent (166)

Similar to NPY and AgRP, they are stimulated by a negative energy balance and by rising levels of

Lateral hypothalamus (LHA) and the zona incerta

Lateral hypothalamus and perifornical area orexin neurons project widely through the CNS

Expression Area

Factors that upregulate expression

Rising leptin levels

Factors that downregulate expression

antagonism of MC3R/MC4R in the PVN, and local release of NPY and GABA within the ARC to inhibit the arcuate POMC neurons via Y1 and GABA receptors, respectively Central administration of MCH causes hyperphagia (24) MCH knockout mice have reduced weight and are lean due to hypophagia (139), and possibly increased energy expenditure (162) Mice with targeted disruption of MCH1-R display excessive feeding, hyperactivity, increased metabolic rate, and resistance to diet induced obesity (25). This resistance to weight gain in the setting of hyperphagia suggests that MCH may promote a positive energy balance mainly by decreasing activity and energy expenditure, rather than by increasing nutrient intake Central orexin neurons express both neuropeptide (mainly NPY) receptors and leptin receptors and hence may be able to integrate actions of both CNS and peripheral signals Major targets of these


Galanin (GAL)

GALR1, GALR2 (181–184)

expressed in the VMH. Orexins A and B have equal affinities for the orexin-2 receptor, which is expressed primarily within the PVN

Hypothalamus, primarily in the PVN and ARC nuclei, as well as the LHA and perifornical area (181)

to areas including the PVN, ARC, NTS, and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus and to areas associated with arousal and attention as well as feeding

glucocorticoids and Ghrelin (23,158, 167–171) Hypoglycaemia and insulin also exert a stimulatory effect on the expression of orexin mRNA (172,173) Leptin does not significantly regulate orexin levels, with obesity and hyperphagia (hyperleptinemic states) actually being associated with increased levels of these neuropeptides (167, 174–177) High-fat diets (185–187) Declining glucose levels fail to elicit changes in GAL mRNA expression (188)


Exogenous administration of GAL stimulates feeding behavior, decreases energy expenditure and decreases sympathetic nervous system activity (189) GAL has a role in regulating carbohydrate metabolism in the setting of a high-fat diet (190)

neuropeptides are currently considered the endocrine and autonomic nervous system, the cranial nerve motor nuclei, and cortical structures The considerable rise in orexin mRNA observed in response to declining blood sugar and the subsequent stimulating effects of orexins on locomotor activity and searching behavior suggests a role in hypothalamic arousal (167, 172, 178–180)


Expression Area

Factors that upregulate expression

Anorexigenic peptides Peripheral signals of G-protein-coupled MC3R, expressed in Melanocortins are energy abundance, many areas of the receptors (MCR) cleaved from such as insulin and CNS and in several are expressed proopiomelanocortin leptin (11, 193) peripheral sites, and throughout the (POMC): In contrast to the MC4R, expressed body a-melanocyte orexigenic peptides, mostly in the CNS stimulating dietary nutrients exert (192), are the receptors hormone (a-MSH) no regulatory control most relevant to g-MSH (191) over POMC expression energy regulation. Five (194–196) melanocortin receptors have been identified, MC1R-MC5R, however, MC3R and MC4R are most likely to play a role in energy homeostasis.


Table 1 (continued) Factors that downregulate expression

Decrease of energy intake and increase of energy expenditure (197) MC4R knockout mice are obese MC4R antagonists administered centrally decrease food intake dramatically (191) MC3R knockout mice have reduced lean body mass and increased fat mass, despite hypophagia and normal metabolic rates (198) Central administration of MC4R agonists suppresses food intake, while administration of antagonists results in hyperphagia Furthermore, several MC4R mutations have been identified in obese humans (199, 200), accounting for approximately 5% of morbid obesity in children (46, 201), (201) Melanocortin agonists reduce both food intake and body weight in several mouse models of obesity (197, 202), and their role in humans is being evaluated in ongoing trials


GALR2 (208)

Galanin-like peptide (GALP)

CRF receptor Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH) family of peptides: Corticotropin Releasing Factor (CRF) Endogenous CRF receptor ligands, the urocortins (213)

No specific receptor has been identified to date

Cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript (CART)


Arcuate nucleus

Arcuate nucleus, lateral hypothalamus and paraventricular nuclei (203)

GALP mRNA levels increase in response to leptin and food restriction (209) Glucose administration has been shown to increase GALP entry into the brain (210) CRF mRNA expression is tightly controlled by CORT levels (214, 215)

Elevated levels of leptin, insulin and glucocorticoids (204) High-fat diets also exert a stimulatory effect on CART mRNA expression

Food deprivation


The CRH family of peptides: they promote negative energy balance, they continue to maintain tight glycemic control through the effects of adrenal steroids. (216–221) CRF regulates ACTH release from the anterior pituitary and subsequent release of CORT from the adrenal glands (220, 222)

Direct intracerebroventricular CART administration decreases nocturnal, as well as fasting induced food intake in rodents (139) Neurons synthesizing CART are indirectly responsible for the effects of leptin through sympathetic nervous system activation (205) CART may also act as a modulator of the rebound thermogenic effect taking place in states of hypothermia (206, 207) Central injection of this hormone results in decreased feeding and body weight (211) Additionally, a thermogenic response has been observed following acute administration of GALP (212)

Serotonin (5-HT)


Table 1 (continued)


Expression Area

Factors that upregulate expression

Factors that downregulate expression

Important anorexigenic role by mediating leptin’s weight reducing effect (223) and by stimulating POMC neurons to release a-MSH (224) 5-HT2C receptor knockout mice have decreased oxygen consumption, increased food intake and increased body weight (223). Several anti-obesity drugs act by increasing 5-HT receptor signaling Increasing the availability of 5-HT by affecting its release and reuptake in the synaptic cleft, or the direct activation of the 5-HT receptors, reduces food consumption, whereas decreasing 5-HT receptor activation produces the opposite effect Arena Pharmaceuticals is currently developing APD356, a new selective 5–HT2C receptor agonist for obesity. Also in development is Wyeth’s 5–HT2C agonist WAY–16390915

Interventional studies have demonstrated that central administration of CRF results in hypophagia, increased energy expenditure, increased blood glucose, and decreased insulin secretion


Central a1 or b2 adrenergic (b–ARs) receptors

Dopamine receptor isoforms (D1–D5)


Dopamine (DA) Tyrosine hydroxylase gene replacement, and hence dopamine replacement, into the caudate putamen restores feeding, while gene therapy into either the caudate putamen or nucleus accumbens (NAc) restores preference for a palatable diet

Activation of 1 and, 2-adrenergic receptors inhibits food intake Beta-adrenergic receptors are considered the most important receptors in the adrenergic family for regulation of energy expenditure in response to dietary excess. Ablation of all three b-Rs in mice results in obesity, which is largely due to lower energy expenditure, and this effect is enhanced when mice are challenged with caloric excess (48). Thus, these mice are mildly obese on a regular diet but become massively obese on a high fat diet. These data are further supported by the fact that mutations of b-Rs are clearly associated with human obesity Plays a central role in energy intake, as seen in the abnormal feeding associated with pharmacological depletion and / or genetic disruption of dopamine synthesis (223) Striatal extracellular DA increases with food intake in normal weight subjects (225), but in obese subjects there is reduced brain DA activity, which may predispose them to excessive food intake (225). Further studies are needed to define the specific dopamine receptor isoforms (D1–D5) that will have the most significant weight reducing effects, while avoiding behavioral side effects or addiction


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palatable sucrose and fat (37). Conversely, opioid antagonists administered into the nucleus accumbens reduce preferentially sucrose ingestion in comparison to other less palatable substances (37). Several studies indicate that there are interactions of opioids with other appetite-regulating processes (38). 1.5.3. The Cannabinoid System Among the several novel antiobesity strategies currently under development, it was hoped that pharmacological antagonism of the anabolic cannabinoid-1 receptor could potentially be the first to come into clinical use. The cloning of the G-protein-coupled cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1R) provided valuable information about the mechanisms of action of the principal active constituent of cannabis, d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (39). The lipids anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol, which are known as endocannabinoids, are natural ligands for CB1R. CB1R mediates the anabolic effects of exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids (40). Anabolic and prodiabetic actions of endocannabinoids include the following: (1) in the hypothalamus, increase of orexigenic and decrease of anorexigenic neuropeptides; (2) in mesolimbic reward centers, enhancement of food palatability and reward reinforcement; (3) in the hindbrain, blunting of nausea and GI satiation signals transmitted from the vagus nerve; (4) in the GI tract, inhibition of satiation signals and potentiation of hunger signals transmitted to vagal sensory nerve terminals, as well as facilitation of nutrient absorption; (5) in adipose tissue and liver, stimulation of lipogenesis; and (6) in muscle, impairment of glucose uptake (40). Given the major anabolic actions of CB1R, it is not surprising that pharmacological antagonism of this receptor promotes weight loss. A specific CB1R antagonist, rimonabant, was created only a few years after the receptor was discovered and was followed by the discovery of other antagonists such as taranabant. Through its actions in the hypothalamus, hindbrain, mesolimbic reward centers, and vagus nerve, rimonabant enhances anorexia, potentiates satiation signals, and lessens the motivation to consume palatable, rewarding foods. Together, these effects reduce food intake and body weight. Beneficial effects of rimonabant on body weight, adiposity, and other features of the metabolic syndrome have been confirmed in phase III human trials lasting up to 2 years (41–43) which led many European nations to approve this agent as a new drug for obesity. The approval in the USA has been delayed, however, owing to concerns about a potential for psychiatric side effects. It remains to be seen whether rimonabant or taranabant or both will eventually be approved for obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

2. ENERGY EXPENDITURE IN ENERGY HOMEOSTASIS According to the first law of thermodynamics, the total energy of a system plus the surroundings remains constant. Obesity can result, therefore, from a relative increase in energy intake (food) compared to EE. The regulation of EE and its role in body weight homeostasis has not been very well studied to date. Potent physiologic mechanisms maintain body weight within a narrow “set point” and regulate energy balance with accuracy in most humans (44), as demonstrated by under- and overfeeding studies (45). Certain thermogenic mechanisms, such as leptin-induced increases in EE (46,47) and diet-induced thermogenesis, a critically important antiobesity mechanism as per studies in rodents (48,49), have evolved in mammals to allow burning up of excess

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energy (50,51). Human studies suggest that increased sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity, decreased parasympathetic nervous system activity, and an inferred form of physical activity known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) lead to an increase in EE in overfeeding states and obesity (52–55). However, many more studies are needed to determine the importance of thermogenic, antiobesity mechanisms in humans (48).

2.1. Components of Energy Expenditure EE can be categorized into obligatory (basal) and adaptive (facultative) thermogenesis. Obligatory EE includes all processes that are involved in the maintenance of basic metabolic and physiologic processes, including the maintenance of ion gradients, muscle tone, digestion, and blood flow (standard metabolic rate). Adaptive thermogenesis includes cold and diet-induced thermogenesis. For example, although thyroid hormone (TH) is required for up to 30% of standard metabolic rate, adaptive increases in TH are required for normal cold-induced thermogenesis (56). Physical activity can also have long-lasting effects on resting metabolic rate (57). Approximate contributions of the various EE components are resting metabolic rate (70%), physical activity (20%), facultative (10%), with physical activity representing the most variable component (58).

2.2. The Role of Regulation of Energy Expenditure in the Development of Obesity Mammals have potent homeostatic mechanisms, which maintain body weight by changing food intake and EE (59). Only relative differences in EE might explain predisposition to obesity since obese patients have increased EE when compared to lean subjects (56). Although there are data demonstrating that increased food intake causes obesity, there has been less evidence that decreased EE may specifically lead to obesity. Differences in EE have been proposed to be associated with the development of obesity over a period of years (60) while genetic factors may play a major role in controlling EE (52,61). However, other reports do not support the hypothesis that abnormal regulation of EE leads to obesity (58,62,63). For example, several studies have failed to find obesitypromoting mechanisms to explain differences between lean and obese subjects, including SNS nerve activity (64), catecholamine turnover (65), lipolysis (66), the thermic effect of food, (58) and THs (67). In summary, the hypothesis that relatively low EE contributes to the development of obesity has been supported by a few but not all studies. It remains unclear whether stimulation of EE in humans will eventually prove to be a useful approach for antiobesity therapy.

2.3. Regulation of Energy Expenditure Regulation of EE depends on many factors, including physical activity, changes in energy intake/diet, THs, SNS, adrenergic receptors, futile cycles, and intermediary metabolism genes. 2.3.1. Physical Activity Increasing physical activity represents an effective method to resist obesity in the setting of increased food intake; it has effects on EE both acutely, with large increases in maximal oxygen consumption, and chronically via increased mitochondrial proliferation


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(68). In humans, a combination of decreased food intake and physical activity is most successful for sustained weight loss (69). Overfeeding studies in lean humans showed that the majority of increased EE in response to caloric excess occurs via increased non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), a separate category of physical activity that is related to adiposity which includes all tasks of daily living (70), and not via increases in thermic effect of food, or coordinated physical activity (55). Further research into the regulation of physical activity as a specific mechanism to control body fat stores is still needed. Although there are limited data available based on measurements of everyday, real life physical activity at the population level, it appears that energy intake has increased and physical activity has decreased more than enough to explain the increasing prevalence of obesity in the population (71). A related controversial issue in the area is how much physical activity should be recommended for prevention of weight gain, for weight loss, and/or for prevention of weight regain after weight loss. In this respect, several studies have shown that very large increases in physical activity are necessary to avoid weight regain after weight loss (72) while very small increases may prevent weight gain (59). 2.3.2. Changes in Energy Intake/Diet Diet composition

The role of diet composition on body weight is an area of controversy in the field of obesity research. Diet composition can affect body weight in individuals who are in energy balance. In a recent review, Astrup et al. (73) found that body weight is reduced slightly as dietary fat content of the diet is lowered in individuals who were in energy balance. Reducing dietary fat without food restriction may affect both energy intake and EE in small ways, since voluntary intake may be lower with low- vs. high-fat diets (74,75). Increasing dietary carbohydrate and reducing dietary fat could also be expected to produce a slight increase in the thermic effect of food (75), since carbohydrate produces more thermic effect than fat does, but this remains to be conclusively shown. The impact of high- vs. low-glycemic diets as well as of protein diets on energy balance is still the focus of intensive research efforts (76,77). Diet composition during negative energy balance

Diet composition may have different effects depending on whether subjects are in energy balance or whether they are in positive or negative energy balance. During equivalent negative energy balance, there might be little difference in altering the fat/ carbohydrate ratio of the diet and there seems to be similar body weight and body fat loss with high- and low-fat diets when total energy intake is fixed at a level below energy requirements (78). However, there are several reports of differences in weight loss with high- and low-fat diets when energy intake is not fixed (79,80), suggesting that diet composition may affect satiety or hunger during dieting. A recent meta-analysis (81) concluded that nonenergy-restricted, low-carbohydrate diets were at least as effective as low-fat diets over a period of 1 year. Lowering dietary fat has little impact during negative energy balance. Therefore, in general, low-fat diets have not been found to lead to greater weight loss than diets higher in fat content. Diet composition during positive energy balance

During positive energy balance, diet composition can have a relatively larger effect on energy balance. Studies have shown that excess energy is efficiently stored in the

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body regardless of its source, but it has been proposed that excess energy from dietary fat is stored more efficiently than excess energy from carbohydrates (82). This area is of significant interest and the focus of intensive research efforts. 2.3.3. Thyroid Hormones Thyroid hormones (TH; including T4 and T3) play a significant role in regulating EE. Thyroid hormones mediate ~30% of basal thermogenesis and stimulate numerous anabolic and catabolic pathways (reviewed in (83)). Low TH levels in response to dietary restriction are associated with reduced EE during weight loss and act to resist body weight change in obesity (84). These changes in TH levels are also associated with changes in EE and SNS. All these alterations are to a certain degree due to falling leptin levels in response to weight loss (84), but the extent to which falling leptin mediates the alterations in TH in response to food deprivation and whether leptin administration in replacement doses would improve weight loss maintenance remain to be seen. 2.3.4. Sympathetic Nervous System and Adrenergic Receptors The SNS is another significant regulator of EE (reviewed in (85)). b-Adrenergic receptors (AR) are apparently the most important receptors in the adrenergic family for regulation of EE in response to dietary excess but other receptors are also important in EE regulation (86). Several studies support the model of altered EE in response to caloric excess, and resistance to obesity. In most rodent models of obesity there is low SNS activity, which can be associated with propensity for future weight gain (85,87), and activation of this pathway by b-AR agonists is effective in reducing obesity in mice (88,89). Numerous attempts to alter SNS function (by surgical, chemical, immunological, and genetic means) failed to affect body weight, however, and thus the importance of SNS-mediated diet-induced thermogenesis lacks support (90–92). On the other hand, ablation of all 3 b-ARs in mice (b-less mice) results in obesity that is entirely due to lower EE, and this deficit is enhanced when mice are challenged with caloric excess (48). These results are supported by genetic studies in humans reporting mutations in b-ARs that are associated with human obesity (86,93). In contrast, the development of b-AR agonists for the treatment of obesity has failed to result in any usable compounds in studies in humans. 2.3.5. Futile Cycles EE in mammals can be regulated by thermogenic futile cycles that can involve various metabolic pathways, including the glycolysis pathway (94), as well as calcium (95–97), sodium, and proton cycling in cells. Although lipogenic/lipolytic futile cycles are stimulated in white adipose tissue (WAT) in response to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) agonists (98), futile cycles have not yet been shown to play a significant role in mammalian body weight regulation, however. 2.3.6. Intermediary Metabolism Genes that Regulate EE and Body Weight There is increasing evidence that EE in mammals is controlled at numerous, ratelimiting, and, in some cases, leptin-mediated steps in glucose and fatty acid metabolism. In many rodent models loss of function of key synthetic enzymatic steps in fatty acid synthesis results in increased EE, reduced body weight, and obesity resistance (99–102). In humans, polymorphisms in the rate-limiting enzyme for triglyceride synthesis are


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associated with lean kindreds (103). AMP kinase, which is regulated by leptin, is an emerging, central mediator of these critical steps in fatty acid metabolism and affects appetite and EE (104,105).

2.4. Thermogenic Tissues Many tissues have the metabolic potential to mediate thermogenesis as a specific response to increased body weight and adipose stores. 2.4.1. Brown Adipose Tissue Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a critical role in thermogenesis and body weight regulation in rodents (106), but may not represent an attractive target for antiobesity treatment because of its apparent absence in adult humans. BAT is a highly thermogenic form of adipose tissue (107). Stimulation of b-ARs by catecholamines or synthetic b-AR agonists markedly stimulates EE, primarily in BAT (50). b-AR agonists have not been proven to be effective as potential treatment options for human obesity, because of low abundance of the b3-AR in human tissues, or lack of specificity for the human b3-AR, or intolerable side effects because of the high doses needed. These considerations have made the use of b-AR agonists for human obesity uncertain (108). High fat feeding also results in marked BAT hypertrophy and increased EE, suggesting that BAT plays a role in resisting obesity (49,50). Subsequent isolation and cloning of a 32-kDa protein, then-called thermogenin, initiated a search for the function of such proteins (uncoupling proteins, or UCPs) that uncouple oxidative phosphorylation and thus have the capacity to produce heat (109). Some studies (110,111) have supported a role for UCPs in more specialized forms of thermogenesis, but other studies have revealed controversial results. Others have emphasized the existence of a paradox: BAT is necessary for normal body weight regulation, but the major thermogenic protein, UCP-1, is not apparently absolutely required (112). This paradox may be solved by either finding another thermogenic mediator in BAT or investigating other tissues as potential mediators of diet-induced thermogenesis. 2.4.2. White Adipose Tissue White adipose tissue (WAT) clearly participates actively in many metabolic processes (113) via regulation of glucose uptake, lipolysis, response to adrenergic stimulation, and release of numerous cytokines (leptin, ASP, adiponectin, resistin) (114). Furthermore, although the metabolic rate of WAT is often cited as low, strong evidence indicates that significant overall EE derives from WAT (115). Secreted WAT-specific cytokines, including leptin, adiponectin, resistin, and other substances, are reviewed in previously published papers (113). Our current understanding is that WAT can be viewed not only as a storage depot, but as an important endocrine organ that profoundly affects EE and body weight. WAT represents an important potential antiobesity target via increased EE.

2.5. Approaches to Treat Obesity via Manipulation of EE Appropriate strategies for weight loss would be to either prevent positive energy balance and stop the gradual weight gain of the population or treat obesity in those already affected. This involves producing negative energy balance to produce weight loss, followed by achieving energy balance permanently at a lowered body weight. In the following paragraphs, we discuss the above approaches. The major antiobesity pathways that have

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been targeted for manipulation of EE include mitochondrial uncoupling, the activation of the SNS, and TH use. With the possible exception of the medicines discussed below, none of these has been successful in treating human obesity because of either intolerable side effects or lack of efficacy, as judged by prevention of further weight gain, 5–10% loss of weight, metabolic improvement, and/or long-term maintenance (116). 2.5.1. Uncoupling Oxidative Phosphorylation Compounds that short circuit the mitochondrial membrane potential, called uncouplers, had preceded the isolation and characterization of endogenous UCPs. These compounds (2,4-dinotrophenol, for example), which are effective treatments for obesity through their ability to increase oxygen consumption, have been abandoned because of a narrow therapeutic window and intolerable side effects (117). 2.5.2. Hormones Leptin

Leptin is an adipocyte-derived cytokine that stimulates numerous pathways in the CNS, including weight loss. Exogenously administered leptin results in decreased food intake in leptin-deficient humans and, presumably via the SNS, in modest (if any) increase in EE and fat mobilization. The majority of obese human patients have elevated leptin levels in serum, however, indicating that there is resistance to leptin. The effect of exogenous leptin on body weight loss in humans is highly variable across a wide patient population, most likely because of already high leptin levels in obese patients reflecting a variable degree of tolerance or resistance to its effects (118). Although leptin-deficient patients respond markedly to leptin treatment, these patients are extremely rare (119). In addition, it is possible that certain patients with partial leptin deficiency may also respond to exogenous leptin treatment (120,121), but this remains to be studied in the future. Thyroid hormone

Activation of TH receptor b increases metabolic rate and causes weight loss in mice, and thus may become a drug target for obesity (122). Subtype-specific compounds that are selective for a single thyroid receptor isoform are potential approaches to making antiobesity compounds (123), but this is currently only an emerging area of research. 2.5.3. Sympathomimetics Ephedrine is a sympathomimetic agent that increases numerous SNS activity responses, including heart rate, blood pressure, and basal metabolic rate, probably through direct activation of adrenergic receptors. Its usefulness is limited by cardiovascular side effects and relatively low efficacy in the treatment of obesity, although in combination with caffeine it may show greater efficacy (124). Sibutramine is a nonselective NE/serotonin reuptake inhibitor that acts both as an appetite suppressant (125) and activator of SNS activity via the b3-AR (126). Sibutramine is currently indicated for obesity treatment in the absence of known cardiovascular disease (see relevant chapter below) (127). Dose-limiting toxicity and potential side effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure. Patients should be screened for evidence of underlying atherosclerotic heart disease and need to be followed periodically while on sibutramine. Nicotine stimulates norepinephrine release from sympathetic nerve terminals, resulting in modest (5%) thermogenesis (128). Smoking cessation may have contributed to the


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increase in the prevalence of obesity because of withdrawal of nicotine, which acts as both an appetite suppressant and stimulator of thermogenesis (129). Caffeine stimulates thermogenesis by inhibition of adenosine receptors on tissues, resulting in increased intracellular cAMP levels and lipolysis (130). Caffeine may be useful, to a small extent, as a treatment for obesity, especially in combination with other compounds such as ephedrine or nicotine (128), and long-term studies have shown beneficial effects of endogenous insulin sensitizers, including adiponectin, on the metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Caffeine intake is not currently included among the recommended treatments for obesity, however. The ability of b-AR agonists to reverse obesity in rodent models led to great hopes that these could become effective treatments in humans (89). b3-Agonists, in particular, would seem to be ideal targets for drug development, because their expression is restricted to adipose tissue and they effectively reduce body weight in rodents (107). The potential mechanisms of action of b-agonists are multiple, including increased mitochondrial function and abundance, differentiation of BAT in WAT depots, lipolysis, and increased fatty acid oxidation. However, the future of b-agonists as effective antiobesity treatments remains unclear as outlined above (131,132). 2.5.4. Producing Negative Energy Balance and Weight Loss Food restriction is practically the primary driver of weight loss in humans; any diet that results in ingesting fewer calories will produce weight loss. Although it is also possible to lose weight with physical activity alone (133,134), it is difficult for most people to exercise enough to achieve a degree of negative energy balance that would result in significant weight loss. This is also why adding physical activity to food restriction produces only a minimal additional amount of weight loss (133,134). Unfortunately, weight tends to be regained in most people regardless of the composition of the diet used for weight loss (79,80). It has been estimated that long-term success in obesity treatment is about 20% or less if success was defined as maintaining a 10% reduction in body weight for at least 1 year (135). The mechanisms underlying the ability of the organism to defend a given body weight are under intensive investigation. 2.5.5. Weight Loss Maintenance Although there are several studies about factors that contribute to weight loss, we have very little evidence to understand the factors that contribute to weight loss maintenance. In a descriptive study by Klem et al. (72), although most (>90%) participants reported that they used both food restriction and physical activity to lose weight, there was little similarity in the types of diets used for weight loss (72). Conversely, in this study many similarities were seen in the behaviors and strategies used to maintain weight loss. The four that stand out are as follows: • Eating a moderately low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. This is consistent with previous work suggesting that low-fat diets should be better than high-fat diets in preventing positive energy balance (75). • Consistent self-monitoring of body weight, food intake, and physical activity. This is consistent with other reports that self-monitoring facilitates long-term success in weight management (136). • Eating breakfast every day. This is consistent with a growing body of data showing that eating breakfast facilitates maintenance of a healthy body weight (137). • Very high levels of physical activity.

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2.6. Therapeutic Implications/Future Directions The exploding obesity pandemic certainly suggests that efficient and safe behavioral and pharmacological approaches to treat obesity are needed. Efforts to clarify the mechanisms underlying energy homeostasis have provided a pathway for identifying and studying targets for drug development in the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders. As an example, identifying the mechanisms underlying neuronal resistance to adiposity signals has clear therapeutic implications; drugs that prevent or reverse this resistance can be predicted to favor the defence of a reduced level of body fat. A more detailed understanding of the pathogenesis of human obesity hopefully will ultimately guide the development of efficacious treatment options that could benefit the affected individuals.

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208. Larm JA, Gundlach AL. Galanin-like peptide (GALP) mRNA expression is restricted to arcuate nucleus of hypothalamus in adult male rat brain. Neuroendocrinology 2000; 72(2):67–71. 209. Jureus A, Cunningham MJ, McClain ME, Clifton DK, Steiner RA. Galanin-like peptide (GALP) is a target for regulation by leptin in the hypothalamus of the rat. Endocrinology 2000; 141(7):2703–2706. 210. Kastin AJ, Akerstrom V, Hackler L. Food deprivation decreases blood galanin-like peptide and its rapid entry into the brain. Neuroendocrinology 2001; 74(6):423–432. 211. Krasnow SM, Fraley GS, Schuh SM, Baumgartner JW, Clifton DK, Steiner RA. A role for galanin-like peptide in the integration of feeding, body weight regulation, and reproduction in the mouse. Endocrinology 2003; 144(3):813–822. 212. Lawrence CB, Baudoin FM, Luckman SM. Centrally administered galanin-like peptide modifies food intake in the rat: a comparison with galanin. J Neuroendocrinol 2002; 14(11):853–860. 213. Richard D, Lin Q, Timofeeva E. The corticotropin-releasing factor family of peptides and CRF receptors: their roles in the regulation of energy balance. Eur J Pharmacol 2002; 440(2/3):189–197. 214. Cai A, Wise PM. Age-related changes in the diurnal rhythm of CRH gene expression in the paraventricular nuclei. Am J Physiol 1996; 270(2 Pt 1):E238–E243. 215. Moldow RL, Fischman AJ. Circadian rhythm of corticotropin releasing factor-like immunoreactivity in rat hypothalamus. Peptides 1984; 5(6):1213–1215. 216. Arase K, York DA, Shimizu H, Shargill N, Bray GA. Effects of corticotropin-releasing factor on food intake and brown adipose tissue thermogenesis in rats. Am J Physiol 1988; 255(3 Pt 1):E255–E259. 217. Egawa M, Yoshimatsu H, Bray GA. Effect of corticotropin releasing hormone and neuropeptide Y on electrophysiological activity of sympathetic nerves to interscapular brown adipose tissue. Neuroscience 1990; 34(3):771–775. 218. Glowa JR, Barrett JE, Russell J, Gold PW. Effects of corticotropin releasing hormone on appetitive behaviors. Peptides 1992; 13(3):609–621. 219. Inui A. Transgenic approach to the study of body weight regulation. Pharmacol Rev 2000; 52(1): 35–61. 220. Richard D, Huang Q, Timofeeva E. The corticotropin-releasing hormone system in the regulation of energy balance in obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000; 24 Suppl 2:S36–S39. 221. Rothwell NJ. Central effects of CRF on metabolism and energy balance. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 1990; 14(3):263–271. 222. Whitnall MH. Regulation of the hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing hormone neurosecretory system. Prog Neurobiol 1993; 40(5):573–629. 223. Schwartz MW, Woods SC, Porte D, Jr, Seeley RJ, Baskin DG. Central nervous system control of food intake. Nature 2000; 404(6778):661–671. 224. Heisler LK, Cowley MA, Kishi T, Tecott LH, Fan W, Low MJ et al. Central serotonin and melanocortin pathways regulating energy homeostasis. Ann NY Acad Sci 2003; 994:169–174. 225. Wang GJ, Volkow ND, Fowler JS. The role of dopamine in motivation for food in humans: implications for obesity. Expert Opin Ther Targets 2002; 6(5):601–609.


Insulin Resistance in States of Energy Excess: Underlying Pathophysiological Concepts Susann Blüher and Christos S. Mantzoros

KEY POINTS • The epidemic of obesity and associated metabolic and cardiovascular disorders are of increasing prevalence and, thus, importance. • Despite significant progress made during this past decade, the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the development of these diseases are still poorly understood. • A dysfunctional adipose tissue is currently considered the “conditio sine qua non” for the development of the metabolic syndrome; this may result from either an a priori limited or an exhausted storage capacity of adipocytes in states of lipoatrophy or chronic energy excess, respectively. • The latter is associated with hypertrophy of adipocytes and when coupled with excessive fat deposition in muscle and liver leads to a derangement in the release of fatty acids, hormones, adipokines, proinflammatory cytokines, and other molecules, which, in turn, result in insulin resistance and a low grade inflammation. • According to our current understanding, chronic inflammation may contribute further toward the development of both insulin resistance and artherosclerosis. • Impairment of insulin action in the periphery and activation of certain immunological responses lead over time to the special features and comorbidites of the metabolic syndrome. • This chapter provides information on factors and molecules involved in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and other aspects of the metabolic syndrome and discusses our present understanding of the role adipokines, free fatty acids, and inflammatory markers play in the development of this syndrome.

Key Words: Obesity, Metabolic syndrome, Insulin resistance, Pathophysiology, Adipokines, Body fat distribution

1. INTRODUCTION An epidemic of obesity is evolving not only in most industrial countries, but also in many developing countries around the world. Obesity substantially increases the risk for metabolic, cardiovascular, and orthopedic comorbidites. The degree of body fat From: Nutrition and Health: Nutrition and Metabolism Edited by: C.S. Mantzoros, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1_5, © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009



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mass accumulation depends on several factors including ethnic background and genetic makeup, gender, and age, but also neuroendocrine, environmental and societal parameters. Gonadal steroids may play a major role in the distribution of body fat. At the onset of puberty, men become more muscular and have less fat, whereas women start to have a higher percentage of body fat in relation to their muscle mass. These differences persist throughout life and are reflected in the typical male and female fat distribution pattern. With advancing age, both gonadal steroid and growth hormone secretion decline, resulting in increased accumulation of visceral fat, particularly in men. In women, higher serum testosterone concentrations are usually associated with increased visceral fat. Thus, the decline in growth hormone and the loss of estrogen at the time of menopause may explain the relatively rapid increase in visceral fat in postmenopausal women. Differences in adipose tissue cellularity have also been suggested as a possible link between obesity and diabetes. Obese people with large subcutaneous abdominal adipocyte size are on average more hyperinsulinemic and glucose intolerant than those with a similar degree of adiposity but with relatively smaller subcutaneous abdominal adipocyte size (1). According to the department of Health and Human Services, 30% of the US population was obese in 2001 with prevalence rates in other developed nations either being similar or following very closely. The prevalence of overweight or obesity in western populations is currently approximately 60% but among type 2 diabetic patients it is as high as 80% (2,3). It is anticipated that, if the same trend continues, more than 80% of American adults will be either overweight or obese by 2020. In general terms, obesity is the result of excessive energy stored in fat. An increased fat mass is associated with an increase in fat cell size (hypertrophy) and/or fat cell amount (hyperplasia). Obesity leads to the development of a cluster of metabolic and other disturbances, collectively called the metabolic/insulin resistance syndrome, which include (or predispose to) lipid abnormalities, arterial hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes, a proinflammatory state, and coagulation abnormalities, all of which lead in turn to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases as well as certain malignancies (4–6). Several explanations for the development of the metabolic syndrome have been proposed, including ectopic fat accumulation, which apparently accompanies the obese state, as well as dysregulation and dysfunction of adipose tissue, which, in turn, secretes abnormal amounts of cytokines and hormones collectively called adipokines (7–9). A major determinant in the development of the metabolic syndrome seems to be not only the total amount of energy stored as fat but also the body fat distribution, since visceral obesity is much more closely associated with the metabolic/insulin resistance syndrome than overall obesity (5,6). This chapter focuses on pathways linking obesity to the features of the metabolic syndrome and discusses underlying pathophysiological mechanisms.

2. THE METABOLIC SYNDROME 2.1. Insulin Resistance Insulin resistance, a state in which normal circulating levels of insulin fail to produce its expected physiological effects, usually refers to the reduced ability of insulin to regulate carbohydrate homeostasis by regulating glucose uptake and/or glucose production. The resistance in carbohydrate metabolism results in increased insulin production, which

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in turn may produce excessive effects of insulin in other pathways (5,10). Thus, the consequences of insulin resistance are different in different tissues affected: in muscle, insulin resistance leads to impaired inward transmembrane glucose transport (11), whereas in the liver, insulin resistance is mainly associated with increased neoglucogenesis and suppressed glycogenolysis as well as impaired liver glucose uptake (12). In adipose tissue (both visceral and subcutaneous), insulin resistance is manifested as a reduced insulin-mediated glucose uptake (13). Insulin resistance in metabolically active tissues leads to compensatory hyperinsulinemia. Other tissues affected by peripheral insulin resistance include the ovaries, where insulin resistance may result in the polycystic ovary syndrome, and vascular cells in which the development of artherosclerosis is the major complication. In addition, it is well established that insulin resistance may promote carcinogenesis in several tissues (14).

2.2. Overweight and Obesity vs Weight Reduction Up to 60% of the population and up to 80% of type 2 diabetics are currently either overweight or obese (3). Follow up for several years of either middle-aged women in the Nurses Health Study or men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study has clearly shown that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is rising in parallel with an increasing degree of overweight and obesity. In accordance, weight reduction is associated with decreased incidence of type 2 diabetes (4). In the Nurses Health Study, a weight loss of 5 kg or more reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by approximately 50% (4). This observation was later also documented in interventional studies including the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), where an approximate 7% of weight reduction, maintained for an average duration of 2.8 years, was associated with a 58% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the prediabetic individuals with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) (15).

2.3. Body Fat Distribution/Fat Storage and Secretory Capacity of Different Fat Depots The distribution of adipose tissue is a major determinant of the metabolic risk profile. In addition, it has been proposed that the fact that functional capacity of the adipose tissue varies among subjects might offer an explanation for the incomplete overlap between the metabolic syndrome and obesity. Although the subcutaneous adipose tissue is the site of main energy storage, when the storage capacity in subcutaneous fat is exhausted, the visceral fat takes over and lipids are also deposited in several other organs including muscle and liver. Individual and gender differences define the storage capacity of subcutaneous fat depots and thus the moment in which energy starts to be stored in visceral fat. In general, men have a lower subcutaneous fat storage capacity and start to accumulate fat in the visceral depot earlier than women (5,6). In concordance with these differences of functional capacity of adipose tissue, individuals with upper body fat accumulation or higher visceral fat mass are more insulin resistant than those with a predominantly lower body fat accumulation and more subcutaneous fat. This has been attributable not only to the increased sensitivity of visceral fat to lipolytic stimuli, but also to altered secretion of adipokines by visceral fat (16–19). Visceral fat is more active in terms of accepting and releasing free fatty acids (FFAs) and is characterized by a different pattern of adipocytokine secretion (20).


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Thus, central or visceral obesity is associated more closely than overall obesity with higher risk to develop insulin resistance and related metabolic disorders and leads to an altered plasma lipid composition (5–7). Subcutaneous fat is the main energy storage site in addition to producing certain levels of adipokines. Visceral fat cells produce excessive amounts of proinflammatory adipokines including tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα), interleukin 6 (IL-6), plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1), and/or decreased amounts of insulin sensitizing, antiinflammatory adipokines such as adiponectin (21–23). These differences in the gene expression profile between visceral and subcutaneous fat may account for the diverging metabolic risk between the two fat depots. Out of the 1,660 genes expressed in adipose tissue, 297 (17.9%) genes have shown a twofold or higher difference in their expression between the visceral and subcutaneous fat depots. Many of these genes are involved in glucose homeostasis and insulin action, such as the peroxisome proliferator activator receptor γ (PPAR γ), or in lipid metabolism, such as the HMG CoA synthase and hormone-sensitive lipase (23).

2.4. Dietary Patterns and Physical Activity Healthy dietary patterns, including the low glycemic index diets and Mediterannean type diets have received much recognition over the past few years for their association with substantial health benefits. A cross-sectional study evaluating plasma markers and dietary data from 987 diabetic women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) revealed that women following a Mediterranean-type dietary pattern albeit older tended to have lower body mass indexes and waist circumferences, and had higher total energy intakes, physical activities, and plasma adiponectin concentrations. Of the several components of the Mediterranean dietary pattern score, alcohol, nuts, and whole grains showed the strongest association with adiponectin concentrations (24). The significance of high circulating adiponectin levels in the context of features of the metabolic syndrome is discussed later on, but women in the NHS adhering closely to a Mediterranean dietary pattern had, in addition to higher adiponectin levels, lower levels of proinflammatory adipokines, lower degrees of insulin resistance, and lower risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In contrast, high glycemic index diet and higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, observed mainly in relation to a Western dietary pattern, are clearly associated with a greater magnitude of weight gain and an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes (25–27). Recent studies suggest that long-term coffee consumption is associated with a reduction in long-term weight gain and a statistically significantly lower risk for type 2 diabetes (28–30). A higher nut consumption has also been described to offer potential benefits in lowering risk of type 2 diabetes in women (31). Finally, in addition to dietary patterns, physical activity significantly improves insulin resistance, insulin sensitivity, and the metabolic syndrome, in part by altering circulating adiponectin and expression of adiponectin as well as adiponectin receptor mRNA in muscle, as discussed later on (32).

3. DYSFUNCTION AND DYSREGULATION OF ADIPOSE TISSUE The prevalence of the metabolic/insulin resistance syndrome continues to increase with the exploding prevalence of overweight and obesity. This is the case in several racial and ethnic groups including Americans among whom the prevalence of the metabolic

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syndrome is estimated to be as high as 40% (2–6). Several studies have demonstrated that weight reduction through increased physical activity, pharmacotherapy, or bariatric surgery is associated with a highly significant reduced risk to develop any component of the metabolic syndrome, including impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes (15,33–35). Emerging data strongly support the view that adipose tissue dysregulation and dysfunction might play a role of major significance in the pathogenesis of the insulin resistance syndrome. A dysfunctional adipose tissue associated with hypertrophy of adipocytes and coupled with excessive fat deposition in muscle and liver is currently considered a “conditio sine qua non” for the development of the metabolic syndrome (5,6). These alterations lead to a derangement in the release of fatty acids, hormones, adipokines, cytokines, and other molecules as discussed in more detail below.

4. INSULIN RESISTANCE AS A CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY PROCESS Mechanisms inducing a low-grade systemic inflammation have been recently suggested to be one of the putative links between obesity, adipose tissue dysfunction, and the development of insulin resistance (7,36). Although the exact signals and the mechanisms that trigger the inflammatory response remain incompletely understood, chronic inflammation is apparently not only associated with, but is also most probably causally related to the development of insulin resistance. It has been shown that accumulation of macrophages in adipocytes leads to an activation of inflammatory pathways (10,37,38). Markers of chronic inflammation such as C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, TNFα and IL-6, and/or circulating triglyceride levels are elevated in serum of obese subjects and can predict the future development of impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes (39,40). Although the question of how the hypertrophic adipocytes are linked to the recruitment of macrophages into the adipose tissue and the establishment of a proinflammatory state remains to be fully elucidated, and the consequences of these changes are far better understood. The two most important harmful cytokines involved in this process are currently thought to be TNFα and IL-6, whereas adiponectin appears to be the most protective adipocytokine. Both harmful adipokines impair insulin signaling (at the level of the insulin receptor or at postreceptor levels including the Insulin Receptor Substrates level) as well as actions of insulin (7,41). The fact that the number of macrophages in human adipose tissue correlates positively with the degree of obesity strengthens the hypothesis that macrophage infiltration into adipose tissue may contribute to the development of dysregulated adipose tissue function and initiate the process of chronic inflammation (7). A major focus of research has been the question whether dysfunctional and inflamed adipose tissue can be converted into “healthy” adipose tissue again and whether the progression of metabolic dysfunction can be stopped or reversed by modulation of the inflammatory profile in adipose tissue. In this context, several studies have shown that administration of thiazolidinediones (TZD), which act by binding to and activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARγ), is capable of reversing inflammatory properties and lipid abnormalities besides the direct and indirect effects of TZDs to improve insulin resistance, including increase of circulating levels of adiponectin, an endogenous insulin sensitizer (42). Importantly, TZDs improve glycemic control and enhance insulin sensitivity despite the paradoxical weight gain seen with TZD treatment.


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The latter seems to be attributable to the fact that TZDs may redistribute fat within the body by reducing visceral and hepatic fat mass and increasing subcutaneous fat depots. Since TZDs may also lead to fluid retention, osteoporosis, and other complications, it has been proposed that development of non-thiazolidinedione, selective PPARγ modulators (SPARMs) could hopefully lead to availability of effective medications that could result in increasing adiponectin levels and insulin sensitization without any side effects (43). INT-131, a compound in development by Intekrin is the one in the most advanced stages of development in this area.

5. IMPACT OF FREE FATTY ACIDS AND LIPID METABOLISM ON INSULIN RESISTANCE: EFFECTS OF LIPOTOXICITY Insulin inhibits lipolysis in adipose tissue and promotes the transfer of FFAs from circulating lipoproteins to the adipose tissue. Thus, in states of insulin resistance, FFA levels increase in the circulation due to unrestrained lipolysis and decreased clearance of FFAs in the periphery; this phenomenon leads also to an increase of triglycerides (TG) (10). Circulating levels of FFAs are increased in obese subjects and have been proposed to be a major contributor to peripheral insulin resistance (44,45) initiating thus a vicious cycle. Chronically elevated serum FFA levels stimulate gluconeogenesis, induce insulin resistance at the level of liver and muscle, and impair insulin secretion in genetically predisposed individuals (43). Increased FFA levels also tend to increase triglyceride accumulation in both liver and skeletal muscle, and this correlates with the degree of insulin resistance in these tissues (46,47). Serum triglycerides, which are in a state of constant turnover, and their metabolites such as acyl coenzymes A, ceramides, and diacylglycerol also contribute toward both impaired hepatic and peripheral insulin action. In addition, nonesterified fatty acids are raised in obese subjects (both, diabetic and nondiabetic) following enhanced adipocyte lipolysis. Increased fatty acid concentrations lead to enhanced insulin secretion in the short term and significant (even total) inhibition of insulin secretion as early as 24 h thereafter (48,49). This sequence of events is frequently called lipotoxicity (50). Accumulating evidence suggests that such lipotoxicity may also be an important contributor to the pancreatic β cell dysfunction seen in type 2 diabetic patients (48,51). Since the magnitude of the effects of lipotoxicity has been questioned by some investigators, this area remains an active area of research. As previously described, when the classical fat depots are filled to capacity, other storage depots may be used for the storage of excess fat, namely liver and muscle. The failure of adipose tissue to take up more fat absorbed by the digestive tract leads to an excessive postprandial lipid flux toward muscle and liver and to a decreased clearance of triglyceride rich lipoprotein particles. The interplay of these particles with HDL and LDL cholesterol leads to the typical dyslipidemic profile, whereas the increased availability of (FFAs) has direct effects on the liver (9,52).

6. LIPODYSTROPHY AND INSULIN RESISTANCE Similar to states of energy excess leading to obesity, congenital forms of lipodystrophy in humans, i.e., states characterized by selective loss of subcutaneous and visceral fat, are also associated with metabolic abnormalities (hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia) in humans (53). Insufficient adipose tissue storage capacity may in turn lead to excessive

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energy storage in fat, skeletal muscle, and liver. This is in turn linked to the development of severe insulin resistance in these organs. Patients with generalized lipodystrophy represent thus another model of human ectopic fat deposition. In accordance with the concept of ectopic fat accumulation as a contributing factor for obesity-associated insulin resistance and related metabolic disorders, these subjects also have abnormal secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and abnormally low circulating levels of two adipokines, i.e., leptin and adiponectin (53). The impact of an abnormal secretion pattern of those adipokines on lipid metabolism and the pathogenesis of the metabolic syndrome is discussed later on. Recent studies support the concept that insulin resistance in one of the contributing factors to the development of dyslipidemia seen in the metabolic syndrome (10), but it has also been proposed that elevated FFAs and triglyceride levels also contribute to exaggeration of insulin resistance through a lipotoxicity mechanism. Moreover, the classic diabetic dyslipidemia could be considered as the main clinical manifestation of adipose tissue failure, i.e., lack of adipose tissue storage capacity either directly (lipoatrophy) or indirectly i.e., because existing adipose tissue stores are filled to capacity (9,54).

7. THE ROLE OF ADIPOKINES IN INSULIN RESISTANCE The discovery of the adipocyte secreted hormone leptin in December 1994 has resulted in a dramatically altered view of the role the adipose tissue plays in human physiology. In addition to its classical physiological functions (heat insulation, mechanical cushioning, storage site for triglycerides), the adipose tissue is now recognized as an active endocrine organ that produces a variety of bioactive peptides (adipokines) as well as inflammatory and antiinflammatory molecules including leptin, adiponectin, TNFα, IL-6, IL-18, CRP, PAI-1, and many others (7,9,55). Some of these molecules are almost exclusively expressed in adipose tissue (e.g., leptin, adiponectin), while others are produced by both adipose tissue and adipose tissue-resident macrophages as well as other organs or systems (e.g., TNFα, IL-6, PAI-1). With the exception of adiponectin, which is decreased, all other adipokines and inflammatory markers are increased in overweight and obese individuals.

7.1. Adiponectin Adiponectin is an adipocyte secreted endogenous insulin sensitizer almost exclusively expressed in adipocytes. Adiponectin expression is higher in subcutaneous than in visceral fat, which might offer an explanation for the negative correlation between circulating adiponectin levels and insulin resistance (56). This negative correlation is independent of body mass index (57). Circulating adiponectin levels are reduced in obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes (58). In contrast to most other adipokines, adiponectin exerts profound beneficial actions including insulin sensitizing, antidiabetogenic, anti-inflammatory/-proliferative, and anti-atherogenic effects. Up to now, two adiponectin receptors (AdipoR1 and AdipoR2) have been described and are mainly expressed in liver and muscle (59–66). Adiponectin increases fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle, promotes glucose utilization, and reduces hepatic glucose production, resulting thus in an increase of insulin sensitivity (9,67). Animal studies have shown that adiponectin deficiency plays an important role in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, as adiponectin knockout mice develop insulin resistance that is reversed by adiponectin administration (61). In addition, circulating adiponectin levels correlate positively with insulin sensitivity in rodents and humans and predict the development of insulin resistance,


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diabetes, and cardiovascular disease as well as certain malignancies associated with obesity and the metabolic syndrome (62,63, 68–71). In addition to its insulin-sensitizing effects, adiponectin has antiinflammatory properties and may also protect against development or progression of atherosclerosis (72,73). Thus, observational studies have shown that not only adiponectin, but also AdipoR1 and AdipoR2 are all associated with body composition, insulin sensitivity, and metabolic parameters. A healthy diet, i.e. a low glycemic index diet (74,75) and a mediterannean type diet (76) also increase circulating adiponectin levels. Intensive, but probably not moderate physical training increases circulating adiponectin and mRNA expression of its receptors in muscle, and this may in turn mediate the improvement of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome in response to exercise (32). A 7% reduction in body weight by lifestyle modification for 6 months results in a significant increase in plasma adiponectin levels in obese type 2 diabetic patients with insulin resistance (77). These effects of weight loss and lifestyle modification on adiponectin levels are in agreement with the observation that these interventions decrease the risk for diabetes and that subjects with high adiponectin concentrations are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with lower concentrations (78). The role of the two adiponectin receptors, AdipoR1 and AdipoR2, in the regulation of energy homeostasis and glucose metabolism is now being extensively studied in rodents and humans. The development of obesity by hypercaloric feeding in mice is associated with an altered expression/secretion profile of adiponectin and its receptors in muscle and liver (79). In addition, adiponectin and both adiponectin receptors seem to be involved in the improvement of insulin sensitivity associated with ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF)induced weight loss (80). The mechanisms by which adiponectin improves insulin sensitivity have not yet been fully elucidated. One proposed mechanism is the activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in skeletal muscle and liver, in addition to enhancing insulin-stimulated glucose uptake into fat and muscle and suppressing hepatic glucose production as well as stimulating fatty acid oxidation. Through the stimulation of fatty acid oxidation, circulating FFAs are further decreased and the actions of insulin are improved (72).

7.2. Leptin Leptin is the prototype adipokine, which is almost exclusively expressed in adipose tissue and more so in subcutaneous fat (81). According to our current understanding, leptin’s main function is to inform several organs of the organism that there is “enough energy to sustain life.” This hormone exerts direct effects in metabolically active tissues and/or indirect effects by activating hypothalamic centers via leptin receptors. Circulating leptin levels are increased in obese subjects and decreased in leaner subjects and/or in response to food deprivation (82). Its key functions include the regulation of food intake/energy expenditure, the regulation of neuroendocrine and immune function, and the modulation of glucose and fat metabolism by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing intracellular lipids (55,66). Animal studies have shown that leptin administration has an insulin sensitizing effect in muscle cells and adipocytes (83–85). In humans, mutations of the leptin gene have been associated with severe obesity, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance, which are reversed

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by leptin administration (86–88). The long-term effects of leptin replacement have been intensely studied in uncontrolled studies in patients with rare syndromes of complete, mostly congenital, lipoatrophy and severe insulin resistance or partial lipoatrophy and milder insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome induced by administration of highly active antiretrovirals (HAART) in HIV positive patients. Leptin administration in replacement doses significantly improved glycemia, dyslipidemia, and hepatic steatosis in these hypoleptinemic patients with severe insulin resistance (89,90) and improved lipidemia and insulin resistance in HIV positive patients (91,92). Whether elevated leptin levels contribute toward the development of the inflammation associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atherosclerosis needs to be fully elucidated. Suggested pathways include direct actions on macrophages to augment their phagocytic activity and to increase production of other inflammatory cytokines (93,94). However, initial studies in humans do not support a role for increased leptin levels in this respect. The exact role of leptin in influencing and regulating neuroendocrine and immune function as well as energy homeostasis remains a subject of intense research efforts (55,66,95).

7.3. Resistin Resistin is an adipokine that has been proposed to correlate closely with hepatic insulin resistance, and circulating resistin levels and resistin expression in adipose tissue was proposed to be increased in type 2 diabetes and obesity (96–98). However, recent data on a potential association between resistin and insulin resistance have been controversial. Additional studies are needed to fully understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of action of this adipokine (99,100).

7.4. Visfatin Visfatin is a recently discovered adipokine. It was first described in 2005 and seems to be associated to the pathogenesis of obesity and impaired glucose homeostasis. In the initial visfatin study, it was proposed that the protein is mainly produced in visceral adipose tissue and that its expression is increased in states of insulin resistance. The authors also reported that visfatin directly binds to the insulin receptor and that it excerts insulin-like effects in vivo and in vitro (101). Meanwhile other groups have reported that visfatin is also produced by a variety of other cells and that it acts as a multifunctional protein and enzyme (9). To date, the role of visfatin in adipogenesis and glucose homeostasis remains controversial. The distinct role of visfatin in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance and its impact in states of energy excess needs to be fully elucidated by carefully designed studies in the future.

7.5. Retinol-Binding-Protein 4 (RBP4) Another promising adipocytokine, the role of which also remains to be fully elucidated, is retinol-binding-protein 4 (RBP4). RBP4, the only transporter protein for vitamin A, retinol, has been proposed to be elevated in obesity and type 2 diabetes and is decreased with inflammation or infection (102). RBP4 was discovered as a molecule that may regulate the expression of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), the most important insulin-stimulated glucose transporter, which is increased in states of insulin resistance


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and leads to an impaired glucose uptake into adipocytes and progressing glucose intolerance. Several but not all groups have also reported that there is an association between RBP4 and insulin resistance, obesity, and other features of the metabolic syndrome (lipid profile, HOMA index, arterial hypertension, proinflammatory markers like CRP or IL-6) (9). The exact mechanism underlying these associations needs to be studied in more detail. Since data on the role of RBP4 in humans are controversial, more studies of this molecule are clearly needed to fully understand its physiological role in energy homeostasis and insulin resistance.

7.6. Tumor Necrosis Factor a (TNFα) TNFα is a potent proinflammatory cytokine implicated in the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes as well as atherosclerosis (103). Circulating TNFα levels and/or levels of the soluble TNFα receptor, a long-term marker of TNFα systemic activation, are increased in both obese nondiabetic individuals (104) and in type 2 diabetes (105). TNFα is structurally similar but functionally opposite to adiponectin, and these molecules are reciprocally regulated. Studies in genetically obese animals suggest that increased release of TNFα from adipocytes may play a major and direct role in the impairment of insulin action (106,107). TNFα influences insulin signaling through impairing serine phosphorylation of insulin receptor and insulin receptor substrate-1, inhibiting thus insulin action at the organ level through autocrine and paracrine mechanisms (108). TNFα may also alter glucose transporter physiology and thus impair insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

7.7. Interleukin 6 (IL-6) IL-6 is another important proinflammatory cytokine, which may also influence insulin resistance. Similar to TNFα, IL-6 regulates hepatic production of CRP and other acute phase proteins. In animal studies, IL-6 has been implicated in the development of insulin resistance in muscle and may also be involved in β cell apoptosis (109). IL-6 levels are elevated in type 2 diabetic subjects and correlate with severity of inflammation as well as glucose intolerance (110,111). The interrelationship between the two proinflammatory cytokines, TNFα and IL-6, is complex, since not only TNFα stimulates IL-6 production and consequently CRP production, but IL-6 also exerts a feed back inhibitory effect on TNFα production (112). Intervention programs that mainly increase IL-6, such as physical activity, may have an antiinflammatory effect through suppression of TNFα, which is one of the major inducers of inflammation (113).

7.8. Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is another cytokine that may link obesity to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This serine protease inhibits the fibrinolytic cascade. Elevated PAI-1 levels cause an imbalance accelerating the atherosclerotic process (114). Adipose tissue is one of the major sources of PAI-1, and circulating levels are elevated in obese and diabetic subjects. It has also been noted that hyperinsulinemia, which usually accompanies insulin resistant states, is a potent stimulus for PAI-1 production by adipose tissue (115,116).

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8. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Obesity-related insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome is a complex state the pathophysiology of which remains poorly understood. The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome has been increasing during the past few years, and this has generated a tremendous research activity in this area. However, even more intense research is needed to further elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying this important public health problem and to potentially provide better therapeutic options for the patients suffering from this syndrome.

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Targeting Childhood Obesity Through Lifestyle Modification Eirini Bathrellou and Mary Yannakoulia

KEY POINTS • Evidence regarding the efficacy of intervention programs targeting childhood obesity suggests that treatment should focus on dietary and physical activity changes, along with behavior modification and parental support. • Different types of dietary interventions, aiming at negative energy balance and improvement of dietary habits, have been applied, such as calorie limit combined with an exchange food system, low energy balanced diets, or even ad libitum low-glycemic diets. • The physical activity component includes an increase in structured or nonstructured activities and a decrease in sedentary activities. To support the child to implement and maintain the desired lifestyle changes, behavior modification techniques have been incorporated in the treatment programs, most common of which are self-monitoring, goal setting, stimulus control, and problem solving. • Parental involvement is recommended to provide support to the child’s effort, although several types of parental roles have been evaluated with variable success. • Currently no consensus has been reached on the most effective intervention, and most studies report short-term results with limited generalizability. • There is an urgent need for well-designed randomized trials to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of lifestyle interventions for the management of children’s overweight.

Key Words: Childhood Obesity, Dietary intake, Physical activity, Behavior modification, Parental involvement, Low-glycemic diets

1. INTRODUCTION Childhood obesity has been recognized as a public health priority for many countries. Prevalence of overweight has increased in Europe, the United States, and many other parts of the world (1–3). During the last decades, all industrialized and many low-income countries have doubled or even tripled their numbers, while countries which traditionally confronted undernutrition problems now encounter obesity problems as well (4). In addition, comparisons of the distribution of body mass index (BMI) between earlier and later

From: Nutrition and Health: Nutrition and Metabolism Edited by: C.S. Mantzoros, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1_6, © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009



Bathrellou and Yannakoulia

Physical activity


Dietary intake

Parental support S o c i a l

s u p p o r t

Fig. 1. Interaction of the parameters targeted for the management of children’s overweight.

studies show a greater shift in the upper part of the distribution, implying that heavier children have now become even heavier (5). This global epidemic would not have justified the alarming interest of scientists, health care professionals, and the general public on the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, if it were not for its multilevel consequences. Obesity has both short and longterm health consequences, affecting the child both in its present and future adult life (6). One of the most well documented short-term effects refers to the cardiovascular risk factors, namely hypertension, dyslipidemia, endothelial dysfunction, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance (7–9). Metabolic syndrome, a clustering of cardiovascular risk factors frequently seen in adults, has also been identified in children and it correlates with obesity status (10–12). Childhood obesity also has harmful psychosocial and economic consequences (13,14), and it tracks well into adulthood (15,16). Even though genetic predisposition and environmental influences interact to cause excess weight, the accelerated increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity during the last decades cannot be explained by a genetic shift (17). It rather reflects profound changes in environmental factors, resulting in positive energy balance. Thus, treatment should focus on the modifiable factors of the energy equilibrium, i.e., dietary intake and physical activity. Several approaches have been proposed for inducing dietary and physical activity changes, along with behavior modification and the participation of parents (Fig. 1). Purpose of this chapter is to discuss these approaches in the context of lifestyle interventions in managing overweight in children.

2. DIETARY CHANGES Although hypocaloric diets have been widely used in achieving weight loss, the optimal type of diet remains unknown. Research in adults indicates that short-term success can be achieved with diets varying widely in composition, from very low-fat to very low-carbohydrate content; however, most individuals experience weight regain over the long term (18–21). In children, combinations of calorie limits and food exchange systems have been applied. The traffic light diet is a food exchange system, first developed by Epstein and colleagues (22); foods are divided into three categories according to their energy and fat content: greens can be consumed freely, oranges should be consumed

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with caution, and reds should be avoided. A daily or weekly number of servings for each of these food groups is, then, recommended. The traffic light diet has evolved in terms of number of calories or red foods (23), allowing for a higher calorie limit (up to 1,500 kcal) and more red foods (24), while modified versions have been developed using either a specific diet (25,26) or no calorie limit (27). A low energy diet, ranging in calorie content from 1,200 to 2,000 kcal, applied either as a tailored or an exchange-based regime, has been also used (25,28–32). Most of the recommended diets so far were characterized as “prudent” or “balanced,” with a caloric deficit of around 30% less of the reported intake or 15% less than the estimated required intake, providing approximately 30% of calories from fat. However, available evidence from randomized trials do not support current recommendations for low-fat energy restricted diets (33). Less restrictive dietary interventions have been successfully undertaken. Recent guidelines suggest that dietary treatment should focus on eating behaviors, such as breakfast skipping and meal frequency, eating out and portion size (34), rather than calorie restriction per se. The need for putting less restraint in the dietary manipulation is also supported by evidence indicating that flexible, not rigid, dietary restraint is associated with lower BMI values and a more successful long-term weight control, both in adults and children (35,36), as well as by concerns that obese children are at high risk for developing eating disorders or show resistance to treatment (37). Under this perspective, nonprescription approaches, promoting the concept of “eating differently, not necessarily less” and a healthy eating (38,39), or focusing on ad libitum low-glycemic diets have been investigated. With regard to the latter, Ebbeling et al. examined the long-term effects of a reduced glycemic load, nonenergy restricted diet with those of a reduced-fat, externally imposed hypocaloric diet, in a small-scale randomized controlled trial of 16 obese adolescents (40). Over 12 months, BMI and fat mass significantly decreased in the reduced-glycemic load diet group, whereas neither measure changed significantly in the conventional diet group. Furthermore, insulin resistance, as assessed by the homeostasis model assessment, increased less with the low-glycemic load diet, even after statistical adjustment for BMI. These findings indicate that reducing the glycemic load or index of a diet, without externally imposing energy restriction, may yield several health benefits in young people. Adolescents, in particular, may more easily adhere to such a dietary pattern, as they may feel less hungry and also more flexible in their dietary choices, thus reaching more easily a negative energy balance allowing for a weight loss.

3. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY INTERVENTIONS Including a physical activity-related component in weight management programs for overweight children is of major importance, because of its obvious effect on energy balance and its beneficial impact on cardiovascular risk factors, even independently of weight reduction (41,42). Recommendations regarding physical activity in children target a generally active lifestyle, and suggest at least 60 min of moderate intensity physical activity, if possible everyday, and not exceeding 2 h of daily screen time (34). Within school setting, individual or team noncompetitive sports, and recreational activities are suggested (43), as well as an active participation in physical education classes (44). Results of a 10-year follow up suggest that physical activity as a lifestyle change is a promising, feasible, and convenient way for managing overweight in children (45). On the one hand, both structured and nonstructured activities have been beneficial in reducing BMI


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in children (46). On the other hand, targeting sedentary activities has been proven at least as (47) or even more (48) effective in reducing percent overweight in children compared with targeting an increase in physical activity per se. It has, further, been proposed that changes in physical activity habits in children reach a plateau: a set-point of physical activity competence may exist within each child, irrespective of the environmental opportunities (49), acting as a mediator of his/her physical activity levels.

4. BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION Both dietary intake and physical activity constitute the result of numerous corresponding behaviors; therefore, studying behavior in the context of combating obesity has attracted great scientific interest. The beneficial effect of adding behavioral modification techniques in a conventional program for the treatment of childhood obesity has been originally described in the early 1990s (50,51), and has been confirmed many times ever since (52). Behavioral and cognitive-behavioral components have been considered as important components of the lifestyle treatment programs (53). There is also some preliminary evidence proposing that the use of a motivational interviewing style by pediatricians and dietitians may be another promising office-based strategy for preventing overweight children to become obese (54), even though its efficacy as a treatment modality has not been proven yet (55). Several techniques have been used in the childhood obesity treatment programs under the aim of modifying eating patterns and increasing physical activity levels. These include contracting, self-monitoring, stimulus control, goal setting, reinforcement, parental training, homework exercises, problem solving, and overcoming stressful situations. Although it is difficult to isolate a specific technique and assess its effectiveness, some of them have been evaluated and proven to have a beneficial effect in pediatric populations, like self-monitoring (56), stimulus control (57), and problem-solving (58).

5. THE ROLE OF PARENTS Parents affect children’s eating and physical activity patterns by several means, namely formulating children’s environment, being role models, and controlling their dietary intake (59). Parental participation is considered as an essential component in a program aiming at modifying child’s lifestyle habits and combating obesity. A great body of research investigates the most effective parental role. Epstein and colleagues highly supported the role of parents as targets for managing their own weight along with their child’s effort to manage body weight (45): a significantly higher reduction in percent overweight of children was revealed after 10 years of follow-up when parents and children were both targeted for weight loss compared to when only children were targeted. Israel et al. found that when parents were helpers, rather than cotargets, the therapeutic outcome was slightly enhanced (60). Moreover, training children in self-regulatory techniques compared with assigning parents most responsibility for change was proven essential in maintaining percent overweight loss after treatment (29). In the studies of Golan and colleagues, parents were the exclusive agents of change, without any direct child involvement (61). It was found that this approach was more efficient in managing children’s weight compared with the approach of children being the exclusive agents.

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As studies are not conclusive with regard to the most effective parental role or the exact degree of parental involvement, recommendations so far suggest a rather supportive role of parents, with less involvement as the child gets older (17), and this is the most widely adopted approach (25,32,39,62,63).

6. IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAMS The structure of the programs targeting childhood obesity varies greatly. In most cases, therapeutic programs are conducted in groups (25,60,62–65), and seldom in individual sessions (28,39) or in conjunction (38,57). Although data comparing individualized and group treatment are scarce, there seems to be a slight advantage in favor of the group format. Goldfield et al. (66) compared the effectiveness of the same familybased behavioral treatment conducted only in groups or in a mixed format, combining group and individualized sessions. As weight outcomes did not differ between the two approaches, group only format was proven more cost-effective. Moreover, Braet and Van Winckel (39) found a favorable long-term tendency for the group approach, when it was compared with an individualized, and to a summer camp approach. Diverging from the conventional setup, and in the context of applying a more cost-effective approach with greater generalization and dissemination, innovative delivery approaches using media technologies have also been evaluated. Frequent telephone and mail contact were proven feasible and effective in promoting use of behavioral skills for weight control in a group of adolescents, when compared with a single-advice typical care session (67). An interactive Website-based behavioral treatment was effective in improving some weight-related parameters in the short term, but Web hits decreased dramatically in the long-term (68). The length of the intervention ranges from 6 weeks to 18 months, with the majority of studies lasting between 3 and 6 months (23). Sessions are usually conducted on a weekly basis. Combinations of weekly and biweekly (29) or even monthly (45) sessions has also been applied, lengthening intervention time. As long-term effectiveness is the ultimate outcome of obesity interventions, addressing weight loss maintenance postinterventionally emerges as a necessity, in accordance to adult studies which, in this regard, propose the extension of treatment contact or content (69). Wilfley et al. (70) successfully tested the efficacy of adding an active maintenance phase following a standard family-based behavioral treatment, in a randomized controlled trial. Interestingly, both maintenance methods studied, i.e., behavioral skills or social facilitation, produced many benefits, either in weight or psychosocial outcomes, compared with no maintenance approach. Still, a decline in treatment effectiveness was observed, regardless of the treatment duration or content, suggesting the need for the development of continuous care models for children.

7. CONCLUDING REMARKS As the degree of obesity of children who participate in weight control programs has increased over the last two decades, in accordance to the increase in childhood obesity rates observed in the general population, it is not surprising that more children in the earlier studies were below the criteria for being at risk for overweight or overweight after treatment (71). As young people nowadays live in a more obesogenic environment, promoting greater food intake and more sedentary activities, contemporary programs


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need to be more powerful to produce treatment effects similar to those observed in the studies during 1970s and 1980s. A lot of work needs to be done in refining existing programs. An earlier review concluded that the reduction of sedentary behavior appeared to be the most effective intervention for achieving and maintaining weight loss in children and that the degree of parental involvement in childhood obesity interventions remains uncertain (72). A more recent pointed out that, although the combination of diet, exercise, behavioral techniques, and parental involvement remains the cornerstone for improving the effectiveness of a weight-loss program, there is still a limited number of studies including a control group (73). Furthermore, most studies are small and noncomparable, they report short-term results with limited generalizability, rarely reporting health outcomes, such as cardiovascular risk factors (74). With regard to diet, interventions including dietetic treatment can be effective, but there are not many quality studies undertaken to date, with adequate long-term follow-up data (23). Therefore, there is an urgent need for welldesigned randomized trials to evaluate the lasting effectiveness of dietary interventions (33) and lifestyle programs. In conclusion, for the time being, the combination of the four parameters discussed, i.e., dietary and physical activity changes, behavioral modification and parental support, constitute the best available therapeutic strategy for childhood obesity. The most recent recommendations on the treatment of childhood obesity are based on this scheme (34), proposed though to be implemented at different settings, from a primary care provider to a multidisciplinary team, and supplemented when needed with more invasive strategies.

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13. Strauss, R.S. and H.A. Pollack. Social marginalization of overweight children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2003, 157(8): p. 746–52. 14. Wang, G. and W.H. Dietz. Economic burden of obesity in youths aged 6 to 17 years: 1979–1999. Pediatrics, 2002, 109(5): p. E81–1. 15. Whitaker, R.C., et al. Predicting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. N Engl J Med, 1997, 337(13): p. 869–73. 16. Deshmukh-Taskar, P., et al. Tracking of overweight status from childhood to young adulthood: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2006, 60(1): p. 48–57. 17. Barlow, S.E. Expert committee recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: summary report. Pediatrics, 2007, 120(Suppl 4): p. S164–92. 18. Baron, J.A., et al. A randomized controlled trial of low carbohydrate and low fat/high fiber diets for weight loss. Am J Public Health, 1986, 76(11): p. 1293–6. 19. McManus, K., L. Antinoro, and F. Sacks. A randomized controlled trial of a moderate-fat, low-energy diet compared with a low fat, low-energy diet for weight loss in overweight adults. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 2001, 25(10): p. 1503–11. 20. Foster, G.D., et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. N Engl J Med, 2003, 348(21): p. 2082–90. 21. Stern, L., et al. The effects of low-carbohydrate versus conventional weight loss diets in severely obese adults: one-year follow-up of a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med, 2004, 140(10): p. 778–85. 22. Epstein, L.H., et al. Child and parent weight loss in family-based behavior modification programs. J Consult Clin Psychol, 1981, 49(5): p. 674–85. 23. Collins, C.E., et al. Measuring effectiveness of dietetic interventions in child obesity: a systematic review of randomized trials. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2006, 160(9): p. 906–22. 24. Epstein, L.H., et al. The effect of reinforcement or stimulus control to reduce sedentary behavior in the treatment of pediatric obesity. Health Psychol, 2004, 23(4): p. 371–80. 25. Reinehr, T., et al. Long-term follow-up of overweight children: after training, after a single consultation session, and without treatment. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 2003, 37(1): p. 72–4. 26. Jiang, J.X., et al. A two year family based behaviour treatment for obese children. Arch Dis Child, 2005, 90(12): p. 1235–8. 27. Duffy, G. and S.H. Spence. The effectiveness of cognitive self-management as an adjunct to a behavioural intervention for childhood obesity: a research note. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 1993, 34(6): p. 1043–50. 28. Flodmark, C.E., et al. Prevention of progression to severe obesity in a group of obese schoolchildren treated with family therapy. Pediatrics, 1993, 91(5): p. 880–4. 29. Israel, A.C., et al. An evaluation of enhanced self-regulation training in the treatment of childhood obesity. J Pediatr Psychol, 1994, 19(6): p. 737–49. 30. Golan, M., et al. Parents as the exclusive agents of change in the treatment of childhood obesity. Am J Clin Nutr, 1998, 67(6): p. 1130–5. 31. Eliakim, A., et al. The effect of a combined intervention on body mass index and fitness in obese children and adolescents – a clinical experience. Eur J Pediatr, 2002, 161(8): p. 449–54. 32. Nemet, D., et al. Short- and long-term beneficial effects of a combined dietary-behavioral-physical activity intervention for the treatment of childhood obesity. Pediatrics, 2005, 115(4): p. e443–9. 33. Gibson, L.J., et al. Lack of evidence on diets for obesity for children: a systematic review. Int J Epidemiol, 2006, 35(6): p. 1544–52. 34. Spear, B.A., et al. Recommendations for treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity. Pediatrics, 2007, 120(Suppl 4): p. S254–88. 35. Westenhoefer, J. Establishing dietary habits during childhood for long-term weight control. Ann Nutr Metab, 2002, 46(Suppl 1): p. 18–23. 36. Westenhoefer, J., A.J. Stunkard, and V. Pudel. Validation of the flexible and rigid control dimensions of dietary restraint. Int J Eat Disord, 1999, 26(1): p. 53–64. 37. Decaluwe, V. and C. Braet. The cognitive behavioural model for eating disorders: a direct evaluation in children and adolescents with obesity. Eat Behav, 2005, 6(3): p. 211–20. 38. Braet, C. Treatment of obese children: a new rationale. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry, 1999, 4: p. 579–591.


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39. Braet, C. and M. Van Winckel. Long-term follow-up of a cognitive behavioral treatment program for obese children. Behav Ther, 2000, 31: p. 55–74. 40. Ebbeling, C.B., et al. A reduced-glycemic load diet in the treatment of adolescent obesity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2003, 157(8): p. 773–9. 41. Nassis, G.P., et al. Aerobic exercise training improves insulin sensitivity without changes in body weight, body fat, adiponectin, and inflammatory markers in overweight and obese girls. Metabolism, 2005, 54(11): p. 1472–9. 42. Meyer, A.A., et al. Improvement of early vascular changes and cardiovascular risk factors in obese children after a six-month exercise program. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2006, 48(9): p. 1865–70. 43. American Academy of Pediatrics. Physical fitness and activity in schools. Pediatrics, 2000, 105(5): p. 1156–7. 44. Carrel, A.L., et al. Improvement of fitness, body composition, and insulin sensitivity in overweight children in a school-based exercise program: a randomized, controlled study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2005, 159(10): p. 963–8. 45. Epstein, L.H., et al. Ten-year follow-up of behavioral, family-based treatment for obese children. JAMA, 1990, 264(19): p. 2519–23. 46. Berkey, C.S., et al. One-year changes in activity and in inactivity among 10- to 15-year-old boys and girls: relationship to change in body mass index. Pediatrics, 2003, 111(4 Pt 1): p. 836–43. 47. Epstein, L.H., et al. Decreasing sedentary behaviors in treating pediatric obesity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2000, 154(3): p. 220–6. 48. Epstein, L.H., et al. Effects of decreasing sedentary behavior and increasing activity on weight change in obese children. Health Psychol, 1995, 14(2): p. 109–15. 49. Wilkin, T.J., et al. Variation in physical activity lies with the child, not his environment: evidence for an ‘activitystat’ in young children (EarlyBird 16). Int J Obes (Lond), 2006, 30(7): p. 1050–5. 50. Epstein, L.H., et al. Comparison of family-based behavior modification and nutrition education for childhood obesity. J Pediatr Psychol, 1980, 5(1): p. 25–36. 51. Epstein, L.H., et al. Effects of family-based behavioral treatment on obese 5-to-8-year-old children. Behavior Therapy, 1985, 16: p. 205–212. 52. Jelalian, E. and B.E. Saelens. Empirically supported treatments in pediatric psychology: pediatric obesity. J Pediatr Psychol, 1999, 24(3): p. 223–48. 53. Powers, S.W., J.S. Jones, and B.A. Jones. Behavioral and cognitive-behavioral interventions with pediatric populations. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry, 2005, 10(1): p. 65–77. 54. Schwartz, R.P., et al. Office-based motivational interviewing to prevent childhood obesity: a feasibility study. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, 2007, 161(5): p. 495–501. 55. Resnicow, K., R. Davis, and S. Rollnick. Motivational interviewing for pediatric obesity: Conceptual issues and evidence review. J Am Diet Assoc, 2006, 106(12): p. 2024–33. 56. Kirschenbaum, D.S., J.N. Germann, and B.H. Rich. Treatment of morbid obesity in low-income adolescents: effects of parental self-monitoring. Obes Res, 2005, 13(9): p. 1527–9. 57. Golan, M., M. Fainaru, and A. Weizman. Role of behaviour modification in the treatment of childhood obesity with the parents as the exclusive agents of change. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 1998, 22(12): p. 1217–24. 58. Graves, T., A.W. Meyers, and L. Clark. An evaluation of parental problem-solving training in the behavioral treatment of childhood obesity. J Consult Clin Psychol, 1988, 56(2): p. 246–50. 59. Johnson-Taylor, W.L. and J.E. Everhart. Modifiable environmental and behavioral determinants of overweight among children and adolescents: report of a workshop. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2006, 14(6): p. 929–66. 60. Israel, A.C., L.C. Solotar, and E. Zimand. An investigation of two parental involvement roles in the treatment of obese children. Int J Eat Disord, 1990, 9: p. 557–564. 61. Golan, M. and S. Crow. Targeting parents exclusively in the treatment of childhood obesity: long-term results. Obes Res, 2004, 12(2): p. 357–61. 62. Levine, M.D., et al. Is family-based behavioral weight control appropriate for severe pediatric obesity? Int J Eat Disord, 2001, 30(3): p. 318–28. 63. Korsten-Reck, U., et al. Freiburg Intervention Trial for Obese Children (FITOC): results of a clinical observation study. Int J Obes (Lond), 2005, 29(4): p. 356–61.

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64. Brownell, K.D., J.H. Kelman, and A.J. Stunkard. Treatment of obese children with and without their mothers: changes in weight and blood pressure. Pediatrics, 1983, 71(4): p. 515–23. 65. Epstein, L.H., J.N. Roemmich, and H.A. Raynor. Behavioral therapy in the treatment of pediatric obesity. Pediatr Clin North Am, 2001, 48(4): p. 981–93. 66. Goldfield, G.S., et al. Cost-effectiveness of group and mixed family-based treatment for childhood obesity. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 2001, 25(12): p. 1843–9. 67. Saelens, B.E., et al. Behavioral weight control for overweight adolescents initiated in primary care. Obes Res, 2002, 10(1): p. 22–32. 68. Williamson, D.A., et al. Two-year internet-based randomized controlled trial for weight loss in AfricanAmerican girls. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2006, 14(7): p. 1231–43. 69. Jeffery, R.W., et al. Long-term maintenance of weight loss: current status. Health Psychol, 2000, 19(1 Suppl): p. 5–16. 70. Wilfley, D.E., et al. Efficacy of maintenance treatment approaches for childhood overweight: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 2007, 298(14): p. 1661–73. 71. Epstein, L.H., et al. Family-based obesity treatment, then and now: twenty-five years of pediatric obesity treatment. Health Psychol, 2007, 26(4): p. 381–91. 72. Glenny, A.M., et al. The treatment and prevention of obesity: a systematic review of the literature. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, 1997, 21(9): p. 715–37. 73. Snethen, J.A., M.E. Broome, and S.E. Cashin. Effective weight loss for overweight children: a metaanalysis of intervention studies. J Pediatr Nurs, 2006, 21(1): p. 45–56. 74. Whitlock, E.P., et al. Screening and interventions for childhood overweight: a summary of evidence for the US Preventive Services Task Force. Pediatrics, 2005, 116(1): p. e125–44.


Diet and Physical Activity in the Prevention of Obesity Frank B. Hu

KEY POINTS • Numerous epidemiologic and clinical studies have examined the role of dietary factors in the development of obesity. • Cumulative evidence indicates that there is no “magic bullet” for weight control. Rather, many individual dietary factors each exert a modest effect on body weight, and over time cumulative effects of small changes in daily energy balance lead to weight gain and obesity. • On the one hand, there is some evidence that higher consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables is beneficial for weight control. On the other hand, higher intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with both weight gain and type 2 diabetes risk. • Emerging evidence suggests potential weight control benefits by lowering refined carbohydrates and glycemic loads, but prospective data are limited. • Epidemiologic studies have provided strong evidence that sedentary such as prolonged TV watching is an important risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes, whereas increasing physical activity including brisk walking is associated with weight maintenance and a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. • Given the obesogenic environment in which we live, characterized by the abundance of energy dense, processed and highly convenient foods, and sedentary lifestyle, it is critical to change our nutrition and physical activity environment and social norms. Otherwise, the effects of any kind of weight loss or maintenance diets are difficult to sustain.

Key Words: Obesity, Weight loss, Diet, Exercise, Fat, Carbohydrate, Protein, Whole grains, Fruits andvegetables, Glycemic load

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the US. On the basis of the NHANES 2003–2004 data, the prevalence of the conditions in US adults is estimated at 66.3 and 32.2%, respectively (1). The prevalence of morbid obesity (BMI > 40 kg/m2) is approximately 4.8%. There has been a marked upward trend in obesity over the past several decades in both men and women.

From: Nutrition and Health: Nutrition and Metabolism Edited by: C.S. Mantzoros, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-60327-453-1_7, © Humana Press, a part of Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009




Overweight and obesity are central to the metabolic syndrome and the single most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Obesity is associated with increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality from all-causes. The US Surgeon General in 2001 issued a Call to Action, pointing out that “Overweight and obesity may soon cause as much preventable disease and death as cigarette smoking” in the United States. Approximately 300,000 US deaths a year currently are associated with obesity and overweight (compared with more than 400,000 deaths a year associated with cigarette smoking) (2). Obesity is a complex problem resulting from a combination of genetic, behavioral, environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic influences. Although behavioral and environmental factors are considered primary determinants of obesity, specific dietary lifestyle factors have not been clearly defined. In this chapter, we review epidemiologic and clinical evidence regarding dietary factors and several popular diets and their effects on obesity and weight loss. Also we review epidemiologic evidence regarding the role of physical activity in preventing weight gain.

1. DIETARY FAT Hypothetically, as dietary fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient in the diet, overconsumption of energy could result if food intake is not regulated (3). In addition, the enhanced palatability of high-fat foods could impact regulation of the volume of food intake, leading to increased energy intake and weight gain. Findings from short-term feeding studies have also suggested that as carbohydrate produces a greater thermogenic effect than fat, dietary fat might be used more efficiently and accumulate as body fat (4). However, when studies are extended to 4 days, no differences in stored energy is observed, which would not be the case if fat truly is being used more efficiently relative to carbohydrate. Over 20 years ago, Flatt (5) proposed that carbohydrate intake is regulated, unlike fat, therefore individuals on high-fat diets in theory consume more energy than those on low-fat diets to obtain required amounts of carbohydrate. To date, few data exist that support these claims, and the hypothesis itself is flawed since excess carbohydrate intake can be converted to fat, which is then stored (3). Although several cross-sectional studies suggested a positive association between dietary fat intake and obesity, few prospective cohort studies have examined long-term relationships between dietary fat and body fatness or weight gain, and among those that have, the results have been highly inconsistent (6,7). These studies have varied considerably in size, duration of follow-up, age groups, covariates adjusted in the statistical analyses, and dietary assessment methods. In a 6-year study of 361 Swedish women, Heitmann and colleagues (8) found a significant association between high dietary fat intake and BMI in predisposed women (P = 0.003) but not obese women with lean parents or lean women with or without obese parents. There was a relationship between dietary fat and BMI in genetically predisposed women after adjustment for total energy intake, smoking habits, physical activity, and menopausal status, but subgroup analysis was limited by the very small sample size (n = 56). A much larger study by Field and colleagues (9) examined the association between dietary fat and 8-year weight gain among 41,518 women in the Nurses’ Health Study

Chapter 7 / Diet and Physical Activity in the Prevention of Obesity


(NHS). Data showed a positive relationship between weight change and increased intake of animal fat, saturated fat, and trans fat, especially in overweight women. There was a weak positive association between total fat consumption and weight gain, no association with increases in percentages of energy from mono or polyunsaturated fats, and no evidence that parental weight status modified the relationship between dietary fat and weight gain. The effects of fat on body weight vary according to type of fat. These differences may reflect biological actions of these fats on insulin resistance and fat accumulation. In that the amount of energy provided by different types of fat is the same, the varied effects may also reflect confounding of the association between diet and body weight by other dietary and lifestyle factors. Only one prospective study (of 16, 587 US men aged 40–75 in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study) has examined the association between dietary fat intake and 9-year change in waist circumference. Multivariate analyses by Koh-Banerjee and colleagues (10) found that total fat intake was not associated with gain in waist circumference. However, a significant association was found between increasing consumption of trans fat and gain in waist circumference, even after further adjustment for concurrent changes in BMI. Although confounding by other dietary factors related to high intake of trans fat (e.g., fast-food and breakfast habits) cannot be ruled out, these data suggest potentially detrimental effects of trans fat on fat accumulation.

1.1. Low-Fat Diets and Weight Loss To date, a large spectrum of randomized trials have been published that offer a less confounded evaluation of low-fat diets in relation to body weight than the many ecologic and cross-sectional studies that have examined this association (see review by Malik and Hu (11)). A metaanalysis (12) of 28 short-term trials suggests that a 10% decrease in total energy from fat can reduce bodyweight by 16 g/day, which is extrapolated to a weight reduction of 8.8 kg by 18 months and 23.4 kg by 4 years (3). Longer-term trials, however, do not substantiate these predictions. In a qualitative review by Willett (3), several clinical and intervention trials of the effect of low-fat diets (ranging from 18 to 40% of energy) on weight, including nine long-term trials ranging from 12 to 24 months, were evaluated. This review suggests that diets lower in fat can result in modest reductions in body weight in the short-term but studies lasting for 1 year or more show that 18–40% of energy intake from fat has a negligible effect on body weight (3). Similar findings were observed in the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial (WHI) (13), a randomized intervention trial comparing an ad libitum low-fat dietary pattern with usual diet in 48,835 postmenopausal women in the US with a mean follow-up of 7.5 years. The intervention group was instructed to reduce total fat intake to 20% of total energy intake by increasing fruit, vegetable, and whole grain consumption, and received intensive behavioral modification sessions led by nutritionists. The control group received a copy of Dietary Guidelines for Americans (14) and followed their usual diet. Neither group was given instructions to lose weight. Overall results suggested that although the intervention group lost weight in the first year compared with the control group (2.2 kg; P < 0.01), the difference in weight loss between the two groups was negligible at the end of follow-up (year 9) over an average of 7.5 years (0.4 kg at 7.5 years; Fig. 1) (13).The authors suggest the trial provides evidence that fat restriction does not lead to weight gain, refuting claims that low-fat, high-carbohydrate


Hu Age 60-69, y

Age 50-59, y

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4 Control Intervention

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1‡ 2‡ 3‡ 4‡ 5‡ 6‡ 7‡ 8‡ 9† Years of Intervention


1‡ 2‡ 3‡ 4‡ 5‡ 6‡ 7∗



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Fig. 1. Differences from baseline in body weight by low-fat diet vs. usual diet, and age at screening. The error bars indicate 95% CIs. Numbers at baseline for intervention and control in the 50- to 59-year group were 7,206 and 10,797, respectively; 60–69 years, 9,086 and 13,626; 70–79 years, 3,249 and 4,871. Adapted from (13).

diets are driving the obesity trend (13).However, few older women are supposed to gain weight. A major limitation of the study was that the authors did not differentiate between types of fats and carbohydrates.

2. DIETARY CARBOHYDRATES Low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets generally produce higher postprandial glucose and insulin responses. However, similar to total fat, the total percentage of energy derived from carbohydrates in the diet has generally not been found to predict diabetes risk. Metabolic consequences of carbohydrate intake depend not only on their quantity but also on their quality. The glycemic response of a given carbohydrate load depends on the food sources, which has led to the development of the glycemic index (GI), ranking foods by their ability to raise postprandial blood glucose levels (15). The GI quantifies the glycemic response by a standard amount of carbohydrates from a food relative to the response by the same amount of carbohydrates from white bread or glucose. The overall GI of a diet has been found to be associated with an increased diabetes risk in some prospective observational studies (16). However, the relevance of the concept of GI is indirectly supported by the reduction in diabetes incidence observed with acarbose, an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor that slows down the digestion of carbohydrates (17). Effects of carbohydrate-rich foods on insulin resistance and diabetes risk may also depend on fiber content and type. Several epidemiologic studies found that diets rich in whole grains or cereal fiber may protect against type 2 diabetes (16). Controlled feeding studies have found benefits of whole grains, when compared with refined grains, on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. This effect may be partially mediated by positive effects on body weight – studies generally support an inverse association between intake of whole grains and body weight (18). In addition, fiber tends to slow down gastrointestinal absorption, resulting in a lower GI of whole-grain products compared with their refined-grain counterparts, but other mechanisms by which whole grains influence glucose metabolism are likely to play a role as well, e.g., short-chain fatty acid production and micronutrient content.

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Weighted Mean Difference, kg (95% CI) 18

Brehm et al, 2003 19

Foster et al, 2003 20

Samaha et al, 2003 22

Yancy et al, 2004 23

Dansinger et al, 2005 Overall (95% CI) Heterogeneity P = .02 2 Inconsistency I =65% (95% UI, 7%-87%)

Favors Low Carb

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Foster et al, 2003

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Stern et al, 2004

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Weighted Mean Difference, kg

Heterogeneity P = .15 2 Inconsistency I = 48% (95% UI, 0%-85%)

–1.0 (–3.5 to 1.5) –9







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Fig. 2. Weighted mean differences in weight loss after (a) 6 months and (b) 12 months of followup from a metaanalysis (30) comparing the effects of ad libitum low-carbohydrate diets versus low-fat energy-restricted diets on weight loss. Adapted from (19).

2.1. Low-Carbohydrate Diets Given the vast popularity of low-carbohydrate diets, a large number of studies, mostly randomized controlled trials, have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of carbohydrate-restricted diets compared with fat-restricted diets on weight loss. A metaanalysis (19) compared the effects of ad libitum low-carbohydrate diets (allowing a maximum intake of 60 g of carbohydrates per day or 10% energy) with those of low-fat ( 30% energy), energy-restricted diets on weight loss (19). In total, five randomized controlled trials (n = 447) were analyzed, with 6–12 months follow-up. The authors found that after 6 months, participants randomized to a low-carbohydrate diet had lost more weight than those randomized to a low-fat diet (weighted mean difference 3.3 kg, 95% CI −5.3 to −1.4 kg) (19). Notably, after 12 months this difference dissipated (weighted mean difference −1.0 kg, 95% CI −3.5 to 1.5 kg; Fig. 2) (19). This metaanalysis also compared the effect of the two dietary patterns on cardiovascular disease risk factors and found that after 6 months triglyceride and HDL cholesterol level changes were more favorable in the low-carbohydrate diet group, but total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol level changes were more favorable in the low-fat group. Overall, existing trials of low-carbohydrate diets/high-fat diets have shown greater short-term weight loss (within 6 months) than low-fat diets; however, most studies have been small and inconclusive. Similar findings have been shown for low-carbohydrate/high-protein diets (generally 25% energy) (20).

3. MEDITERRANEAN-TYPE DIETS The Mediterranean dietary pattern emphasizes moderate consumption of fat (~40% energy) primarily from foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil and encourages consumption of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish as well as moderate consumption of alcohol (21). A review of trials assessing the effect of the Mediterranean diet on disease prevention identified three studies that evaluated change in body weight (22). Of these, only the trial by McManus et al. (23) was able to provide sound evidence for a beneficial role of the Mediterranean diet on weight loss. In their trial, individuals were randomized to either a moderate-fat energy-restricted diet (35% energy from fat) or a low-fat energy-restricted diet (20% energy from fat). After 18 months, the moderate-fat group had decreases in body weight (4.1 kg), BMI (1.6 kg/m2), and waist circumference (6.9 cm) while the low-fat group had increases of 2.9 kg, 1.4 kg/m2, and 2.6 cm, respectively (P < 0.001). After extending the study for



an additional year, mean weight loss in the moderate fat group was significantly greater than that in the low fat group, illustrating the sustainability of a Mediterranean dietary pattern compared with traditional low-fat recommendations. Though compelling as they are, these results need to be further substantiated, and it should be noted that the dropout rate among participants was relatively high. Similarly a study by Esposito et al. (24), which randomized individuals with the metabolic syndrome to either a prudent diet (total fat < 30% energy) or Mediterranean diet, found that after 2 years, mean (SD) body weight loss was higher in patients in the Mediterranean diet group (4.0 [1.1] kg) than in the low-fat diet group (1.2 [0.6] kg; P < .001). However, it is difficult to differentiate whether these findings are a consequence of the more intensive weight loss counseling received by the Mediterranean diet group relative to the low-fat diet group. Of particular interest was the finding that levels of inflammatory markers were significantly reduced in individuals on the Mediterranean diet compared with individuals on the low-fat diet. Such findings have recently been corroborated by Estruch et al. (25) who evaluated the short-term effects of two ad libitum Mediterranean diets (supplemented with either 1 L/week of free virgin olive oil or 30 g/day of free tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts)) versus those of an ad libitum low-fat diet on intermediate markers of cardiovascular disease. Compared with participants in the low-fat diet group, after 3 months those in the two Mediterranean diet groups had decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and inflammatory markers and increased HDL levels. Despite much higher amounts of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet groups, supplemented with olive oil or nuts, there was no difference in body weight between the intervention and low-fat groups. One of the most desirable features of the Mediterranean diet relative to traditional low-fat diets is its ability to improve cardiovascular disease risk factors. However, given the large number of carbohydrate-rich foods consumed in the Mediterranean diet, such a dietary pattern should include mostly low-GI carbohydrates. Though not explicitly studied, it has been suggested that traditional Mediterranean diets may enhance weight loss by providing a sustainable dietary pattern that offers a variety of healthy, portioncontrolled, palatable foods.

4. INDIVIDUAL FOODS AND BEVERAGES 4.1. Nuts Substantial evidence from epidemiologic studies and clinical trials indicates that high nut consumption has beneficial effects on blood lipids and cardiovascular risk (16). A major concern is that because of their high fat content and high energy density, higher consumption of nuts may cause weight gain and obesity. However, several cross-sectional analyses of large cohort studies, including the Adventist Health Study (26) and the NHS (27), have shown that people who consume nuts regularly tend to weigh less than those who rarely consume them. A 28-month prospective study conducted in Spain found an association between higher nut consumption and lower risk of weight gain. Compared with those who never or almost never ate nuts, participants who ate nuts two or more times per week had a 31% (relative risk, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.53–0.90) lower risk of gaining at least 5 kg during the follow-up. Overall, participants who frequently consumed nuts gained an average of

Chapter 7 / Diet and Physical Activity in the Prevention of Obesity


0.42 kg less than those who rarely consumed nuts (28). In the NHS, nut consumption was inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes after adjustment for age, BMI, family history of diabetes, physical activity, smoking and alcohol, and total energy intake (29). The multivariate relative risk of women who consumed nuts at least five times per week (1 oz. serving size) compared with those who never/almost never ate nuts was 0.73 (95% CI, 0.60–0.89, P for trend 98% of patients received the same treatment recommendations based on their BMI and cardiovascular risk factors (6). However, more recent data from almost 6,000 adults in the 1999–2004 NHANES indicates that waist circumference remained a significant predictor of diabetes even after adjusting for BMI and other cardiovascular risk factors (7). In addition, measurement of waist circumference may be useful in certain situations (e.g., in certain ethnic populations such as Asians in whom normative BMI ranges may not apply as well because of higher percentage body fat at a given BMI compared with other ethnic groups (8) and whose metabolic risk may start to increase at a BMI ranging from 22 to 25 kg/m2) (9). Individuals with high waist circumference (as defined earlier) have been shown to have a greater likelihood of having hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia after adjusting for potential confounding variables, even within normal-weight and overweight categories (10). Thus, the finding of abdominal obesity may heighten awareness of and decision to screen for these related metabolic abnormalities. 2.1.4. Other Measures of Body Fat Multiple methods exist to directly measure body fat, including densitometry by underwater weighing (considered the “gold standard”), total body water estimates using tritiated or deuterated water, total body potassium measurements, electrical impedance, CT, or MRI, but are primarily limited to research use because of expense and/or requirement for specialized equipment or materials. Body fat can also be indirectly estimated from anthropometry by measurement of skin-fold thicknesses at certain sites (e.g., biceps, triceps, subscapular, suprailiac) using calibrated calipers. Tables for converting the measured thicknesses to percent body fat are available (see Chap. 19). Although noninvasive and potentially easy to perform in clinical practice, anthropometry measurements are limited by the need for training to obtain accurate results, the assessment at only a few sites that may not reflect total adiposity due to differences in fat distribution, and the lack of wellestablished normative criteria for defining obesity based on this technique.

2.2. Screening for Obesity The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has conducted an extensive survey of the medical literature to determine the effectiveness of screening for and treating adult patients for obesity (11). Although there were no large trials evaluating the efficacy of mass screening for obesity on which to base recommendations for screening, the USPSTF concluded that BMI is the easiest method for screening based on ease of use, reliability, and close correlation with body fat. In addition, counseling and pharmacotherapy


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were found to produce a modest weight loss of approximately 3–5 kg over at least 6–12 months, which improved clinical outcomes such as blood pressure, lipid levels, and glucose metabolism. Counseling for diet and activity was most effective when intensive (person-to-person contact more frequent than once per month for the first 3 months) and when combined with behavior therapy (11).

2.3. Evaluation 2.3.1. History The evaluation of the obese patient begins with a detailed history and examination to investigate for any potential secondary underlying causes, particularly treatable or reversible causes, as well as to develop an appropriate and comprehensive plan for evaluation and management. Although the vast majority of obese patients have simple “garden-variety” obesity related to the combined influences of over-nutrition and inadequate physical activity in the setting of predisposing genetic factors, weight gain can occur in the setting of certain endocrine disorders, hypothalamic disease, or a number of commonly used medications (primarily psychoactive/neurologic and hormonal/ endocrine) (Table 1). Endocrine disorders that may be associated with weight gain include thyroid disease (typically hypothyroidism, but occasionally hyperthyroidism due to the accompanying hyperphagia), Cushing’s syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (in women), hypogonadism (men), GH deficiency, and insulinoma. Patients are often concerned that a “slow-down” in their “metabolism” has contributed to weight gain, and it is important to exclude such potential contributing factors, although the new diagnosis of these conditions based only on weight gain in the absence of suggestive symptoms and signs is not common. Research in recent years has started to shed insight into the complex hypothalamic pathways of energy regulation and resulted in the identification of certain rare monogenic causes of obesity, such as deficiency of leptin, leptin receptor, proopiomelanocortin, melanocortin-4 receptor, prohormone convertase-1 (12) (discussed in detail in Chap. 2). Although defects at a single gene are a rare cause of obesity, and only a handful of such subjects with some of these defects have been identified around the world, it has been estimated that pathogenic mutations at the leptin receptor gene accounts for about 3% of individuals with very severe, early-onset obesity (13) and mutations at the melanocortin-4 receptor gene for around 6% of those with severe obesity starting in childhood (14). However, these are also enriched databases of severe childhood obesity, and the estimated prevalence of single gene mutations from these studies may not be directly applicable to the general population. In addition, there are about 30 genetic disorders in which obesity is an accompanying feature, which are often associated with mental retardation, dysmorphic features, and organ-specific developmental abnormalities (Table 1). Future research in this area may soon help to elucidate additional genetic factors that predispose toward obesity in the appropriate environmental context (see Chap. 2). In addition to identifying potential secondary causes of obesity that may explain weight gain and/or be amenable to treatment, it is instructive to identify certain key factors in the history, including age of onset of obesity, weight at age 18, history of weight gain, and previous weight loss attempts. The development of obesity at an early age can have ominous implications, as obesity markedly decreases life expectancy, particularly

Chapter 16 / Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Medical Management of Obesity and Diabetes


Table 1 Etiology of Obesity or Conditions Associated with Weight Gain or Obesity Simple obesity Drug-induced Dietary and/or sedentary lifestyle with predisposing genetic background Endocrine Polycystic ovary syndrome (women) Hypogonadism (men) Hypothyroidsim Hyperthyroidism Cushings’ syndrome Insulinoma Growth hormone deficiency Hypothalamic Injuries Infections Tumors Infiltrative diseases Miscellaneous Smoking cessation

Neuroleptics (thioridazine, olanzapine, clozapine, risperidone, quetiapine) Antidepressants Tricyclics (amitriptyline, nortiptyline, imipramine) a-2 Antagonist (mitrazapine) Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (paroxetine) Antihistamines (cyproheptidine) Lithium Antiepileptics (valproate, gabapentin, carbamazpine) Diabetes treatment Insulin Sulfonylureas Thiazolidinediones Others Hormonal contraceptives Corticosteroids Progestational agents Antihistamines b-Blockers (propranolol), a-blockers (terazosin)

Examples of genetic disorders in which obesity is a feature (additional major features in parentheses) Monogenic disorders [gene locus] (severe, early-onset obesity and hyperphagia) Leptin [7q31.3] (also abnormal immune function and hypogonadism) Leptin receptor [1q31] (also hypogonadism, hypothalamic hypothyroidism, mild growth delay) Melanocortin-4 receptor [18q22] (also increased lean body mass, bone mineral density, and growth) Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) [2p23.3] (also adrenal crisis in infancy, pale skin, red hair) Prohormone convertase-1 deficiency [5q15-q21] (also hypogonadism, hypocortisolemia) Single-minded homolog 1 (SIM1) [6q16.3-q21] Neurotropic tyrosine kinase receptor type 2 (NTRK2) [9q22.1] Corticotropin-releasing hormone receptor 1 (CRHR1) [17q12-q22] G-Protein-coupled receptor 24 (GPR24) [22q13.3] Melanocortin-3-receptor (MC3R) [20q13.2] Genetic syndromes Albright hereditary osteodystrophy (short stature, round facies, brachydactyly, ectopic soft tissue ossification, resistance to several hormones including parathyroid hormone) Alström (diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance, neurosensory deficits; subset with dilated cardiomyopathy, hepatic dysfunction, hypothyroidism, male hypogonadism, short stature, mild to moderate developmental delay) (continued)


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Table 1 (continued) Bardet–Biedl (mental retardation, dysmorphic extremities, retinal dystrophy or pigmentary retinopathy, hypogonadism or hypogenitalism [male], renal abnormalities) Borjeson-Forssman-Lehmann (mental retardation, epilepsy, hypogonadism, gynecomastia) Carpenter (mental retardation, male hypogonadism, acrocephaly, polydactyly, syndactyly) Cohen (mental retardation, microcephaly, characteristic facial features, progressive retinochoroidal dystrophy) Fragile X (mental retardation, macroorchidism, large ears, macrocephaly, prominent jaw, high-pitched speech) Prader–Willi (diminished fetal activity, hypotonia, mental retardation, short stature, central hypogonadism) Ulnar–Mammary (developmental abnormalities in limbs, teeth, hair, apocrine glands, and genitalia) WAGR (Wilms tumor, anorexia, ambiguous genitalia, mental retardation)

in younger adults less than 40. This is likely due to the longer duration during which comorbid conditions can have their toll (15). Ascertaining the weight at age 18 can not only provide a useful reference point for interpreting subsequent weight gain, but data from large cohort studies such as the Nurses’ Health Study in women (16) and the Health Professional Study in men (17) have shown that weight gain increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, there was a 1.9 times increased relative risk of developing diabetes in women who had gained 5.0–7.9 kg from age 18 (18). It is also important to understand the pace of weight gain, e.g., a relatively sudden weight gain suggestive of an underlying cause or a gradual weight gain over the years usually reflecting chronic imbalances in energy intake versus expenditure. In women, a history of weight changes around pregnancy may be helpful as weight gain over the years often occurs in the setting of a failure to return to prepregnancy weight. Finally, an understanding of previous attempts at weight loss may help in the design and implementation of a more effective weight loss program. It is important to obtain an assessment of the patient’s current dietary habits and level of physical activity. Although formal evaluation by a nutritionist to determine precise caloric intake on which to base specific recommendations for dietary changes is highly recommended, even a cursory review of the patient’s typical diet may reveal areas amenable to improvement, such as large portion sizes, high-fat foods, high-sugar sodas, or unhealthy snacking habits. Similarly, an assessment of the patient’s activity habits provides a starting point for making recommendations on exercise. Comorbidites that may affect the patient’s ability to exercise (e.g., cardiac or pulmonary disease, arthritis, etc.) should be taken into consideration. Other relevant aspects of the history include history of smoking, excess alcohol intake, general medical history (particularly for obesity-related conditions), family history of obesity, and/or related disorders (particularly diabetes and cardiovascular disease), and relevant factors in the social history such as sedentary occupation, frequent work-related travel, and night work.

Chapter 16 / Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Medical Management of Obesity and Diabetes


2.3.2. Physical Examination The initial clinical examination should include measurement of weight, height, waist circumference (as indicated), and blood pressure; assessment of obesity distribution (android or gynecoid); evaluation for secondary causes of weight gain (such as goiter, delayed reflexes, edema for hypothyroidism; central fat accumulation, proximal myopathy, dark striae, or ecchymoses for Cushing’s; hirsutism or other signs of androgen excess in women for polycystic ovary syndrome); or associated metabolic abnormalities (such as acanthosis nigricans for underlying insulin resistance). 2.3.3. Laboratory Evaluation Laboratory testing is usually relatively limited and focuses on the potential metabolic abnormalities, including fasting plasma glucose (or oral glucose tolerance test if suspicion for impaired glucose regulation is high), full lipid panel, and liver function tests (for evidence of steatohepatitis). Evaluation for potential underlying causes of obesity is guided by the clinical suspicion, e.g., thyroid function tests, assessment for adrenal overactivity for Cushing’s, androgens and gonadotropin levels for PCOS, sleep apnea studies, etc. If suspicion for a genetic cause of obesity is present (e.g., severe early-onset obesity and/ or characteristic features), then more specialized testing can be considered.

2.4. Risk Assessment and Goals of Therapy As noted earlier, the NHBLI/NIDDK Expert panel suggests adjusting the disease risk associated with obesity based on a high waist circumference (5). Bray et al. has also suggested a method for adjusting the BMI and reclassifying risk based on factors including weight gain since age 18, triglycerides, HDL, waist circumference, blood pressure, presence of sleep apnea, and level of physical activity (19). Further recommendations for lifestyle, medication, or surgical intervention would depend on this risk-adjusted BMI. In general, lifestyle modification (diet and exercise) is recommended for all individuals with a BMI > 25 kg/m2. Patients with a BMI of >30 or >27 kg/m2 with comorbidities (such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea) are eligible for pharmacotherapy. For severely obese patients with BMI of >40 or >35 kg/m2 with serious comorbidities and acceptable operative risks who have failed previous weight loss attempts, consideration can be given to bariatric surgery (see Chap. 17 for more detailed discussion of this topic) since this approach is the only method currently available that has been shown to result in substantial and sustained losses of weight in the morbidly obese. The treatment of obesity may have multiple goals, depending on the patient’s degree of obesity, level of risk, and commitment to therapeutic intervention. From a public health standpoint, the prevention of the weight gain that often occurs after age 18 may represent an enormous achievement in improving the metabolic, cardiovascular, and other risks that accompany obesity. A weight gain of just 1–2 pounds per year is an almost imperceptible rate of change to most people but can amount to a total weight gain of over 30 pounds by the time an individual reaches 50 years of age. Gradual weight gain on this order of magnitude can be explained by an extra energy intake of less than 50 kcal/day, and the 90th percentile for weight gain in a population can be explained by an excess of just 100 kcal/day (20). Fortunately, the body has remarkable homeostatic mechanisms for regulating weight to account for potential large day-to-day fluctuations in energy intake versus expenditure.


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Most obese individuals, however, have far more ambitious goals than merely the prevention of weight gain. It is important for physicians to have a good understanding of what a patient hopes to achieve from a weight loss program and also to convey the typical efficacy of treatment as patients’ expectations are often unrealistic. Although individual responses to weight loss programs can vary substantially, currently available medications typically produce an average weight loss of ~3–5 kg over 6–12 months (21). This amount of weight loss may not achieve the cosmetic goals that the patient desires, but even a modest weight loss of 5–10% of baseline body weight can be associated with substantial metabolic improvements in blood pressure, lipid levels, and/or glucose regulation (22). Thus, a weight loss goal of 5–10% from baseline over 6 months is reasonable and amounts to a half-pound to 1 pound per week for a 100-kg person. Finally, just as important, and perhaps even more important, than the attainment of weight loss is the long-term maintenance of weight loss and prevention of weight regain. This is particularly true since the typical obese patient who seeks help from the medical profession has usually tried multiple weight-loss strategies in the past with some initial success but subsequent recidivism. In states of insufficient food availability, the ability of the body to maintain weight clearly conveys survival advantage, but this same ability becomes detrimental in an environment of affluence. Complex and redundant systems exist to tightly defend body weight, and multiple compensatory mechanisms quickly become operational once weight loss starts to occur. In addition, once weight is lost, an individual’s total energy requirement (including resting metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, and energy cost of physical activity) declines – a concept termed the “energy gap” by Hill and Wyatt (20). Thus, patients who are successful at weight loss may find that they must adjust their dietary and activity habits indefinitely to maintain the lost weight.

2.5. Behavior Modification One of the major difficulties in the treatment of obesity is that lifestyle modification represents a central and pivotal component of the overall approach, but modifying one’s diet and activity is not only difficult, requiring a concerted effort and decision to change potentially deeply engrained habits, but is also tied to multiple social and other economic factors (e.g., whether a person has the time and/or money that may be required to promote more healthy eating habits and exercise patterns, whether there is an adequate support network available, etc.). Thus, key to a successful weight management program is assessing readiness to change and facilitating behavior change. This involves several important components, including self-monitoring (keeping track of energy ingested and activity performed), modification of the environment (including physical environment, e.g. to keep healthy foods at home, and thinking patterns, to avoid tempting circumstances and to set clear, specific, and attainable short-term goals), self-efficacy or a positive and optimistic attitude that focuses on success rather than failure, and social supports from the family and physician (see Chap. 19) (23).

2.6. Nutrition There have been many different types of diets advocated to promote weight loss. In general, the over-riding principle in achieving weight loss is the institution of an energy deficit diet, generally in combination with exercise. No adult studied by direct

Chapter 16 / Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Medical Management of Obesity and Diabetes


calorimetry has needed less than 1,200 kcal/day to maintain body weight (24), which implies that actually following a diet of less than this should induce weight loss. More drastic diets including very low calorie diets (VLCD) (400–600 kcal) and low calorie diets (800–1,000 kcal) have been used, but the safety of VLCD has been questioned due to the predisposition to cardiac arrhythmias (25). Thus, these diets should only be undertaken under the supervision of a physician. In addition, such stringent diets are difficult to maintain for a prolonged period of time. Formal consultation with a nutritionist is helpful not only for obtaining a more accurate assessment of a patient’s dietary intake (e.g. based on a detailed 3-day food record), but also for making specific recommendations to modify the diet. In general, a safe and reasonable initial strategy is a 500–1,000 kcal deficit diet, i.e. 500–1,000 kcal less than the patient’s typical diet. 2.6.1. Low-Fat Diets There has also been much debate, substantial press coverage in the popular media, and many clinical trials conducted to determine the importance of dietary composition in weight-loss diets. Traditionally, low-fat diets have been promoted as the preferred approach to achieve weight loss, since fat is more energy-dense, high-fat foods may be more palatable, and there exists a notion that dietary fat is positively associated with body fat. Although a small amount of weight loss may be observed in individuals randomized to a low-fat diet in short-term trials, trends in the US demonstrating an increase in obesity despite a substantial decrease in the percentage of fat in the diet suggest otherwise (26). A metaanalysis of more long-term studies lasting for 1 year or more shows that reducing fat consumption to 18–40% of dietary intake has minimal effects on body weight (26). Similarly, a large randomized interventional study (the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial) that reduced fat intake to 20% of total in one group with an average follow-up of 7.5 years showed no difference in weight loss between the intervention group and controls who followed their usual diet (27) (also discussed in detail in Chap. 7). In this trial, dietary fat restriction did not have a significant effect on incidence of cardiovascular disease during this time frame of follow-up. 2.6.2. Low Glycemic-Index Diets It has been suggested that decreased fat consumption may lead to compensatory increases in carbohydrate consumption, particularly refined carbohydrates that may have detrimental effects on weight loss and metabolic status. Specifically, foods containing refined carbohydrates are more rapidly digestible and elicit marked fluctuations in glucose and insulin levels, which can stimulate hunger and inhibit fat oxidation (28). Since carbohydrates differ in their ability to stimulate glucose and insulin release, the notion of glycemic index has developed to quantify this and is defined as the incremental area under the glucose response curve after a standard amount of carbohydrate from a test food relative to that of a control food (white bread or glucose) (see Chap. 21) (28). Glycemic load is the weighted average glycemic index of individual foods multiplied by the percentage of dietary energy as carbohydrate; thus, foods such as potatoes and carrots may have similar high glycemic indexes, but those with a greater percentage of carbohydrate (e.g., potatoes) have a higher glycemic load. A recent 12-week randomized trial of 129 overweight or obese young adults demonstrated that individuals assigned to a low glycemic index diet were twice as likely to achieve weight loss of 5% or more


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compared with those on a traditional high-carbohydrate diet and that reduced glycemic load diet was associated with 80% more fat loss compared with a conventional low-fat diet (29). In a smaller but longer-term study of 23 obese young adults, those assigned to an ad libitum consumption of low glycemic index foods over 12 months lost a similar amount of weight compared with a control group receiving an energy and fat-restricted diet, but showed greater improvements in triglycerol and PAI-1 levels (30). Larger and more long-term studies are needed to determine the efficacy of diets based on low glycemic index foods, particularly when controlled for total energy content, on weight loss and other metabolic parameters. 2.6.3. Low-Carbohydrate Diets In recent years, the proverbial pendulum swung to the other extreme with a great interest in very low carbohydrate diets, some with ad libitum fat and protein intake, since replacement of fat with carbohydrates in traditional low-fat diets may contribute to an adverse metabolic profile (e.g., rapid conversion of refined carbohydrates to simple sugars and stimulation of high insulin levels). The Atkins diet (31) is the prototype “low carb” diet, and the South Beach diet (32) is an example of a more moderate version (see Chap. 19). A recent metaanalysis of five clinical trials comparing low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diets of at least 6 months duration found that although individuals lost more weight at 6 months on the low-carbohydrate diet (5.3 kg compared with 1.4 kg), this difference was no longer significant by 12 months (33). Although low-carbohydrate diets resulted in a more favorable triglyceride and HDL profile, low-fat diets had better effects on total cholesterol and LDL. The greater initial weight loss observed on lowcarbohydrate diets may be related to changes in total body water as glycogen stores are mobilized and increased circulating ketone bodies are renally cleared (34). In addition, total calorie intake on low-carbohydrate diets is lower, which may result from greater satiety during a ketotic state as well as limited food choice on such diets. Regardless, the difficulty with chronically adhering to a strict low carbohydrate diet is evidenced by the lack of difference in weight loss during more prolonged follow-up. A recent randomized trial that compared the effect of four popular weight-loss diets – Atkins (low carbohydrate), Zone (macronutrient balance), Weight Watchers (calorie restriction), and Ornish (low fat) diets – in 160 overweight or obese adults found a modest amount of weight loss (2.1–3.3 kg) at 1 year with favorable effects on the LDL to HDL ratio, but an overall low dietary adherence (35). Importantly, in the National Weight control Registry (an observational study of individuals who had maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for 1 year), those who were successful at long-term weight maintenance continued to consume a low-energy, low-fat diet (36). 2.6.4. Mediterranean Diets The Mediterranean diet has long been touted for its health benefits, including greater longevity and quality of life based mainly on epidemiological studies. This diet encourages the moderate consumption of fat (~40% of calories), mainly from foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish, and moderate consumption of alcohol, as shown in Chap. 14. Studies evaluating the effect of Mediterranean diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors are discussed in greater detail in Chap. 14. Importantly, although these diets contain higher amounts of fat than traditional low-fat diets (but mainly from unsaturated

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“good” fat), there was no increase in body weight. Those assigned to a Mediterraneanstyle diet either lost more weight (37) or had no difference in weight (38) compared with those taking a traditional low-fat diet in randomized studies. Because this type of diet as well as other diets not described in detail herein, such as the Paleolithic diet (39,40), diets with a high Alternate Healthy Eating Index score (41,42), and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet (43), encourages the consumption of a variety of healthy and palatable foods, they may promote greater long-term adherence.

2.7. Exercise Although exercise is a critical component of a successful weight loss program in addition to having cardiovascular benefits, the amount of weight loss achieved through exercise alone without caloric restriction tends to be quite small, on the order of 1–2 kg (44,45). Exercise added to a dietary program can produce a 20% greater initial weight loss (13 kg vs. 9.9 kg) and a 20% greater sustained weight loss at 1 year compared with diet alone (6.7 kg vs. 4.5 kg) based on a metaanalysis of six studies ranging from 10 to 52 weeks (46), although the effect of exercise and diet compared with diet alone may be more modest in other studies (45). Importantly, increased levels of physical activity can be beneficial at all levels of adiposity, although it does not eliminate the increased risk of mortality associated with obesity (47). Even though the effect of exercise on weight loss is small, exercise may offer other important benefits, including favoring a body composition higher in fat-free mass and a higher resting metabolic rate that can provide an advantage in maintaining weight loss. In fact, a major rationale for incorporating exercise into a weight loss program is that a high level of physical activity is an important predictor for successful long-term maintenance of lost weight. This is supported by data from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a prospective observational study started in 1993 of individuals who had maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for 1 year, currently with over 6,000 registrants (20). Participants in the NWCR who were successful in long-term maintenance of weight loss reported expending ~2,800 kcal/week. Others have shown that maintaining a physical activity level equivalent to ~80 min per day of moderateintensity physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) or ~35 min per day of vigorous activity (e.g., jogging) decreases the risk of weight regain (48,49). On the basis of these and other studies, there is good consensus that ~2,500–2,800 kcal/week (equivalent to 60–90 min of moderate-intensity physical activity) is necessary to prevent weight regain (50). Although it may be difficult and impractical for the typical overweight or obese person who follows a sedentary lifestyle to achieve this level of activity right away, a reasonable recommendation is to start with 30–45 min of moderate-intensity physical activity 3–5 days per week and encourage the establishment of a regular exercise routine. Ideally, this can ultimately be increased to at least 60 min per day of physical activity most if not all days of the week.

2.8. Medications Medications may be a useful adjunct to lifestyle modification, mainly by helping to reinforce the intention to restrict food intake. There are currently two agents approved in the US for the long-term treatment of obesity (sibutramine and orlistat) – and another one previously approved in Europe that never receive approval in the US due to concerns of


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Table 2 Medications for the Treatment of Obesity Agents (trade name) Mechanism of action Approved for long-term use Orlistat (Xenical®) Pancreatic lipase inhibitor Sibutramine (Meridia®, Norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitor Reductil®) Antagonist of CB1 Rimonabant endocannabinoid receptor (Acomplia®)a Approved for short-term use Centrally acting Diethylpropion sympathomimetic (Tenuate®, Tenuate Dospan®) Centrally acting Phentermine (Adipex®, sympathomimetic Ionamin®)

Benzphetamine (Didrex®) Phendimetrazine (Bontril®, Prelu-2®) a

Centrally acting sympathomimetic Centrally acting sympathomimetic

Available doses 120 mg 5, 10, 15 mg 5, 20 mg

120 mg three times daily 10–15 mg once daily 20 mg once daily

25 mg

25 mg three times daily 75 mg 75 mg once daily 37.5 mg 37.5 mg once daily 15, 30 mg 15–30 mg once daily 50 mg 25–50 mg three times daily 35 mg 17.5–70 mg three times daily 105 mg 105 mg once daily

Originally approved in Europe, but later withdrawn from the market, never approved in US.

psychiatric side effects (rimonabant) (Table 2). Several medications are approved for the short-term (up to 12 weeks) treatment of obesity, including diethylpropion, phentermine, benzphetamine, and phendimetrazine (Table 2). In addition, there are medications approved for the treatment of other conditions that have also been found to have beneficial effects on weight loss and medications studied for the treatment of obesity, which will be discussed briefly herein. There are several important points to convey to patients when discussing the use of medications for the treatment of obesity. First, currently available medications produce on an average a placebo-corrected weight loss of about 3–5 kg at 1 year (or total weight loss of about 8 kg). Although individual patients may fare better than the average, certainly the efficacy of currently available medications is not ideal, and this is an area of intense ongoing research with multiple agents in the development pipeline (see below). Second, although data up to 2 years is available for sibutramine and up to 4 years for orlistat, the long-term safety of these medications has not been clearly established. Studies to date with these medications have not demonstrated serious side effects on the scale of the valvular heart disease problems observed with fenfluramine, which resulted in that medication’s withdrawal from the market. However, these medications are not approved beyond 2 years, and experience with use for more than 2–4 years is lacking. Third, based on their mechanism of action and the chronic nature of the condition they are treating, it is reasonable to expect that weight may be regained once these

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medications are discontinued, unless substantial and permanent lifestyle modifications have been instituted to maintain weight loss. Thus, these medications represent only a temporary solution. Finally, these medications can have potential undesirable and/or clinically relevant side effects, as discussed later. Long-term effects of pharmacotherapy are discussed in detail in Chap. 18. 2.8.1. Medications Approved for Obesity Sibutramine (Meridia®), an inhibitor of norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake, acts to suppress appetite and (in animals) to increase thermogenesis. In metaanalyses of studies of at least 44–54 weeks duration (at a dose of 10–15 mg/day), sibutramine was associated with an average weight loss of 4.2 (51) to 4.5 kg (21). Importantly, most studies incorporated dietary intervention and excluded patients with known cardiovascular disease. In a 2-year trial in which 605 obese patients were treated with sibutramine 10 mg for 6 months, with subsequent randomization of those losing at least 5% body weight to either sibutramine or placebo for another 18 months, 43% maintained >80% of their weight loss at 2 years compared with 16% on placebo (52). Sibutramine is available in 5, 10, and 15 mg tablets, with a usual initial starting dose of 10 mg and titration up accordingly. Because of sibutramine’s known side effects to modestly increase heart rate and blood pressure, these parameters should be monitored after initiation of therapy. Sibutramine is contraindicated in patients receiving monoamine oxidase inhibitors or serotonergic agents or those with coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, poorly controlled hypertension, arrhythmias, stroke, or severe liver failure. The initial weight loss can predict long-term response, e.g. 49% of patients losing greater than 2 kg in the first 4 weeks lost >10% body weight at 12 months compared with less than 20% of those with less initial weight loss (53). Thus, patients who fail to lose at least 4 pounds after 4–8 weeks of treatment can be considered “treatment failures,” and the medication should be stopped at that time. Orlistat (Xenical®), a lipase inhibitor, acts to inhibit ~30% of fat absorption and thus prevent a portion of energy ingested from being absorbed. Many weight-loss trials using orlistat have been conducted, and metaanalyses of studies (all of which used dietary intervention) have found an average placebo-corrected weight loss of 2.9 kg at 1 year (21,51) and a similar amount at 2 years (3.2 kg greater than placebo) (54). Orlistat as an adjunct to lifestyle modification has also been studied up to 4 years in the context of a randomized placebo-controlled trial in obese patients with normal or impaired glucose tolerance to determine whether a weight-reducing agent would decrease the risk of diabetes. This demonstrated a placebo-corrected weight loss of 2.4 kg (5.4 kg vs. 3.0 kg with placebo) as well as a 37.3% relative risk reduction in the development of diabetes (55). Orlistat is dosed at 120 mg three times daily with meals and can be omitted if a meal is skipped or contains minimal fat. A low-dose (60 mg) formulation (Alli®) has been approved for over-the-counter sale. Because less than 1% of an oral dose of orlistat is absorbed systemically, it is relatively safe with few contraindications to use except chronic malabsorption and cholestasis. However, side effects related to its mechanism of action (including diarrhea, flatulence, fecal soilage) are relatively common (15–30%), although usually mild and tend to improve after several weeks. Because the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins is decreased, it is recommended that a multivitamin be administered with orlistat, and levels of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E,


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and beta-carotene) may need to be monitored. Similar to sibutramine, the amount of initial weight loss predicts the long-term response, and a similar guideline can be used for identifying non-responders. Rimonabant (Accomplia®) is an antiobesity medication with a novel mechanism of action as a selective antagonist of the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, which received approval in Europe in 2006. The appetite-stimulating effects of marijuana (cannabis sativa) has long been known, and endogenous cannabinoid receptors were discovered in the early 1990s. The endocannabinoid system includes two major receptors (CB1 and CB2), and the CB1 receptor is a G-protein coupled receptor extensively expressed in the central nervous system, including areas involved in the regulation of food intake. CB1-knockout mice are lean and resistant to diet-induced obesity (56). Four major randomized placebo-controlled studies have been conducted using rimonabant at 5 and 20 mg daily doses – RIO (Rimonabant In Obesity)-Europe (57), RIA-North America (58), RIO-Lipids (59), and RIO-Diabetes (60) with over 6,600 subjects studied total. These studies have shown a 1-year placebo-corrected weight loss ranging from 3.9 to 5.4 kg (total weight loss: 5.3–6.9 kg) at the 20 mg dose with a much smaller effect at the 5 mg dose (placebocorrected: 0.9–1.6 kg, total: 2.3–3.4 kg). Rimonabant had beneficial effects on waist circumference and metabolic parameters, including HDL and triglyceride levels, with no or minimal effects on LDL or blood pressure. Follow-up rates ranged from 53 to 66%, and the adverse effects (most commonly nausea, dizziness, and depression) resulted in 13–16% of patients discontinuing treatment, 6–7% due to psychiatric disorders. Patients with significant psychiatric disorders were excluded, potentially making the estimates of psychiatric side effects more conservative, and rimonabant did not receive approval by the US Food and Drug Administration mainly due to these concerns. Due to long-term safety concerns, rimonabant was subsequently withdrawn from all markets in 2008. Phentermine (Adipex®, Ionamin®) and diethylpropion (Tenuate®) are sympathomimetic agents approved as short-term aids to weight loss. Studies using these medications have ranged from 2 to 24 weeks for phentermine and 6 to 52 weeks for diethylpropion. Placebo-corrected weight loss associated with these medications averaged around 3.0–3.6 kg, at doses of 15–30 mg for phentermine and 75 mg for diethylpropion (61). Although there have been no major side effects causally related to these medications, there is a lack of long-term studies, and side effects are typical of those sympathomimetics (i.e., restlessness, dizziness, insomnia, palpitations, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure). These medications are limited by the development of tolerance, and weight regain is common after discontinuation of their use. 2.8.2. Medications Approved for Other Indications There are several medications approved for other uses, mainly psychiatric and neurologic, that have been found to be associated with weight loss. Fluoxetine (Prozac®) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that has been shown to cause weight loss ranging from 0.9 to 9.1 kg at 6 months in seven studies (six of which were significant), but at 12 months only three of six studies found statistically significant weight loss ranging from 0.5 to 14.5 kg relative to placebo (21). Notably, the dose used for weight loss (60 mg) was considerably higher than that used for depression (20 mg). Bupropion (Wellbutrin®, Zyban®) is an antidepressant of the aminoketone class that is chemically unrelated to other antidepressants and is also approved for use in smoking cessation. Three studies

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reporting at least 6 months (and up to 12 months in one study) of treatment found an average weight loss of 2.8 kg with bupropion at 400 mg/day relative to placebo (62–64). Topiramate (Topamax®) is an anticonvulsant approved for refractory seizures with an unknown mechanism of action to induce weight loss. Six studies reporting 6-month weight loss outcomes found an average percentage weight loss of 6.5% compared with placebo (absolute weight loss not reported) at doses ranging from 96 to 192 mg/day (21). All of the findings were statistically significant but with considerable variation in magnitude. Zonisamide (Zonegran®) is another anticonvulsant used for the treatment of partial seizures that causes weight loss likely due to its serotonergic and dopaminergic activity. One randomized placebo-controlled weight loss trial has been conducted using this agent and found a placebo-corrected weight loss of 5% (6% vs. 1% in placebo) in 60 obese patients after 16 weeks at a dose starting at 100 mg that was titrated up to 600 mg (65). Sertraline (Zoloft®) has also been studied in a weight-maintenance trial but showed no statistically significant findings compared with placebo (66). Ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF, Axokine®) is an endogenous neuroprotective factor, initially studied for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and incidentally found to induce anorexia and weight loss. The mechanism for weight loss appears to be through activation of hypothalamic leptin-like signaling pathways that bypassed leptin resistance in animal models of obesity (67). In a 12-week, dose-ranging, randomized clinical trial, CNTF was administered by once daily subcutaneous injection at doses of 0.3, 1.0, or 2.0 mg/kg to 173 obese individuals in conjunction with a 500 kcal/day deficit diet resulting in a weight loss of 1.5, 4.1, and 3.4 kg, respectively, versus a gain of 0.1 kg for placebo (68). CNTF was fairly well tolerated, although there was a high incidence of adverse effects (78–93%) with the most frequent being mild injection site reactions that was dose-related (34.4% at 0.3 mg/kg, 39.5% at 1 mg/kg, and 63.6% at 2 mg/kg). Unfortunately, the development of neutralizing antibodies appears to limit CNTF’s efficacy. In summary, although several medications not specifically designed to treat obesity have been found to have some beneficial effects to induce weight loss, the findings from controlled studies have shown variable results. If patients require medications for the treatment of conditions such as depression or seizures, the judicious selection of these agents may be advantageous, but otherwise should be used prudently given the potential for side effects. 2.8.3. Agents in Development Although currently available antiobesity agents are in general not as efficacious as would be desired, it is important to remind patients that drug development in this area is at an early phase and there is intense, active research to map the complex and redundant pathways that underlie weight regulation and to develop new medications. Discussion of all the targets currently being evaluated is beyond the scope of this work and has recently been summarized (69), but agents currently in clinical development include other CB1 receptor antagonists (e.g., CP-945,598 (Pfizer)), CB1 receptor inverse agonists (taranabant (Merck)), other lipase inhibitors (including Cetilistat (Alizyme)), selective 5-HT2C receptor agonists (including APD356 (Arena Pharmaceuticals) and WAY-163909 (Wyeth)), a combined low-dose phentermine and topiramate agent (Qnexa (Vivus)), a combined bupropion and naltrexone agent (Contrave (Orexigen)), an orally available lipolytic domain of human growth hormone (AOD9604 (Metabolic Pharmaceuticals)),


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and gastrointestinal hormones and/or their analogues including peptide YY3-36 (Amylin Pharmaceuticals), a synthetic analogue of peptide YY and pancreatic polypeptide (TM30338 (7TM Pharma)), a synthetic analogue of amylin approved for use in diabetes (pramlintide, alone or in combination with leptin or peptide YY3-36 (Amylin Pharmaceuticals)), and a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist approved for use in diabetes (exenatide or Byetta® (Amylin/Lilly)).

3. METABOLIC SYNDROME The metabolic syndrome (also known as syndrome X or the insulin resistance syndrome) is a clinical syndrome characterized by the clustering of metabolically related cardiovascular risk factors. It is not clear whether a single unifying mechanism causes the metabolic syndrome, although recent work in a mouse model that lacks the insulin receptor only in the liver has shed some insight into this. The presence of insulin resistance in the liver is sufficient to cause dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis, suggesting that hepatic insulin resistance may play a key role in the development of the metabolic syndrome (70). The core components of the metabolic syndrome include obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension, although the exact definition has varied in the past, depending on the criteria used by various scientific organizations including the National Cholesterol Education Program – Third Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP ATP III), the World Health Organization (WHO), European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance (EGIR), International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), and American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE).

3.1. Definitions In 1999, the World Health Organization formulated a working guideline for the metabolic syndrome, based on the assumption that insulin resistance is a key feature (71). It thus required a diagnosis of glucose intolerance, diabetes, and/or insulin resistance plus two or more of the following: • • • • •

Obesity: waist to hip ratio >0.90 (men) or >0.85 (women) and/or BMI > 30 kg/m2 Elevated blood pressure: systolic ³140 mmHg, diastolic ³90 mmHg Elevated triglycerides ³150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) Low HDL cholesterol 102 cm (men) or >88 cm (women) Elevated blood pressure: systolic ³130 mmHg, diastolic ³85 mmHg Elevated triglycerides ³150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) Low HDL cholesterol 85 mmHg Elevated triglycerides ³150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) Low HDL cholesterol